Newsletter: December 28

Hello all,

I hope that everyone has enjoyed their Christmas and holidays so far?  I had a plugged sink Christmas day about an hour or so before people showed up.  So that was exciting but our dinner turned out wonderful, but the stack of dishes was scary the next day.  My small family is scattered about so it is always nice to be together for a special occasion, especially Christmas.  I hope that everyone had special time with your loved ones this Christmas.

I had not planned on doing a newsletter this holiday, nor in fact any further blog posts, but I had things to share so here we are!

Have a great holiday season, and Happy New Year!

Michael

vSphere 5.5b Upgrade – things to know
I wrote this after doing my upgrade.  I also talked with some VMware folks I know and confirmed something important in this upgrade.  It supports vCAC 6.0 talking to it, instead of the Identity VA that ships with vCAC.  So a good way to reduce the number of appliances when working with vCAC.  This upgrade has a number of things to know and all is detailed in this blog.  The release notes are here.

Creating vCenter Database SQ Agent Jobs with SQLCMD
This is good info.  If you move a vC database you can make it work fairly easy.  But it will be incomplete and eventually you will have issues.  I speak from experience, and fortunately figured it out before it was a crisis that customers saw.  Here is the info you need to move the SQL Agent jobs which is what you would be missing if you moved the db.  I do not know the author of this blog, but he certainly does some great work!

VMware Storage vMotion, Data Movers, Thin Provisioning, Barriers to Monster VM’s
This is a very interesting read by Michael, and more importantly a required reading if you are doing monster VM stuff.  Incidentally, monster VM in this case is one with 8 TB of disk (4 vSCSI controllers with 17 VMDKs), 16 vCPU, and 192 GB RAM.  So definitely Monster.  I really hope VMware product management reads Michael’s blog as there is work to be done!  There is good education in his piece as well and good info to know.  Find it here.

What happens in a VSAN cluster in the case of an SSD failure?
I have seen this question pop around a lot, and Duncan has a nice graphic that I think helps answer it best.  Check it out here.  This short blog is good to share with customers that might not be sure about how it is handled or need extra info.

Just some random Virtual SAN Tweets
Duncan has been tracking VSAN in the twitterverse and he shared some of them on his blog here.  I am not surprised by the attitudes.  I find it interesting as people are so surprised around this.  It was quite some time ago when VSAN wasn’t really even running and my boss at the time (Mornay) told me it was to be my one and only project for the next year or two.  He understood the potential of it and wanted me to work with it full time and in our group full time is a scary thing.  That is in fact what I did until Duncan came into the group and he ended up doing the most work in our group on it and I think he made a real difference in the product.  The point I am making is that there were people, including my boss who knew how important VSAN would become even before they saw it, or it was running.  I think I was the first person outside of the VSAN engineering team to make it work and I did not even have a GUI or RVC.  That was when I knew it would be big.  So I am not surprised at the excitement, and the positive energy around it, and I cannot wait until it is a GA product and people can start using it for real workloads.  I have done that, in fact long ago, and it worked pretty darn good!

VMware VSAN Part 1: Overview and First Impressions
The author of this blog started by thinking VSAN / VSA but moved to being very impressed with VSAN.  I think that there is more people that may think that way.  So something good to read.

VMware vSphere Update Manager 5.5
I had hoped that everyone who reads this knows what VUM is, and how to install it, and how to use it to do updates and upgrades of ESXi hosts without requiring an outage.  But, it turns out that not everyone does.  So here is a blog on how to install it and configure it.  All that is required after this is to attach both baselines – Critical and non – critical to your cluster and scan for compliance!

Load Balancing vCenter Single Sign-On
This is very good to see.  In the past the only documentation VMware had for load balancing of SSO was Apache and we know how many people use that don’t we!  So it is very good that they are doing VMware vCNS, F5 BigIP and Citrix NetScaler.  There will be a whitepaper soon but in the meantime there is some videos.  See it all right here.

vSphere Hardening – Part 1
This is a good breakdown of hardening that someone is working through.  This is mostly a list of the material available, but in further blogs he will talk about actually designing and building a secure environment.  This may be very good to watch.  We will see.

Manage VSAN with RVC
There has been lots written on this but I was asked recently about this area and I found two new articles that I quite like.  The first is Basic Configuration Tasks and the second is VSAN Cluster Administration.  I had missed when I looked at RVC that it can erase disks.  That is a big deal and I much appreciate it being in there!  You should likely start with this article first to get you going.

vSphere 5.5 Active Directory authentication – step by step
This blog will help you configure your hosts for AD integrated log in.  So a nice way to have AD accounts that can log in on ESXi.  This also means accounts that can be easily audited too. While this blog shows you how to enable, I suggest you do it via host profiles if you use them.

vSphere 5.1 SSO Troubleshooting Adventure
The author of this blog had quite an adventure doing an upgrade from vSphere 5.1 to 5.1U1.  It should have been easy and smooth, but there was an issue.  And what an issue it was!  I do need to add a couple of things.  He should have been able to do this – with the amazing and painful troubleshooting, and memory upgrade, without an outage.  As well, even on upgrades the best practice is to use Simple if possible.  I wasn’t recently but that was not unexpected since I had not been able to before and that sounds like this fellow too.  I am impressed with what he went through and how he got things back.  Painful but good stuff!  I do not believe it matters, but I have always had the SSO database co-located with the vC database and while this is a non-issue in vSphere 5.5 I think it is a good idea in 5.1.

Paper: Desktop Virtualization with VMware Horizon View 5.2 on Dell EqualLogic PS6210XS Hybrid Storage Array
Here is a note about a Dell technical white paper that has been recently released.  If you work with View and Dell storage gear this should be a big help in helping your design a solution for a customer.

VDI Calculator v5 Beta Drop 2 now available
This is a great tool that Andre has done for the partner and customer community.  It certainly helps design more effectively.  The new version has been updated and can be found here.

vCAC 6.0 Resources
This is a most excellent collection of resources for people wanting to learn more, or who are woking with vCAC.  Great stuff to help out people!  Find it all here.

Automating vCAC (vCloud Automation Center) 6.0 IaaS and SQL Server installation
This is pretty amazing what William had done.  It is important to understand you should do the install a few times first so you know how it all fits together but than it is great to have this automation that William has done!  Check out the details here.

Cloud Automation Series: SSO Design Considerations for vCAC
Here is a bit of a design guide for vCAC and SSO.  I should mention that the patch that Grant talks about is out now and is called vSphere 5.5b.  Check out the blog here.

vC Ops Advanced Dashboard
This is an interesting video on vC Ops and troubleshooting.  Short but interesting.  Check it out here.

Deep Security vCD Integration
Here is an interesting article on things to think about when using Deep Security to protect vCD workloads.  I am a big fan of Deep Security and think it is a great tool for protecting virtual workloads without the typical overhead of administration or resources that a traditional anti – virus tool would have.  I know of a number of organizations that do not protect their virtual workloads when working in vCD, and of course that is a mistake, and Deep Security, and the info in this blog would help resolve that issue!

Cisco released UCS Manager 2.2
This is something I am very not fond of.  I do not like the UI or admin of this product.  However I love the API it has and I have seen customers do new UI’s for it that are much easier to use.  So that is pretty cool.  Check this out for upgrade info.

Want to learn more about NSX, and OpenStack?
Start with Physical networks for VMware NSX, than follow that with OpenStack with vSphere and NSX, and than OpenStack with vSphere and NSX – Part 2: Create and configure the VMware NSX cluster. There will likely be other parts but this will get you started.  I know a number of people that will quite appreciate this, so thanks very much for doing it Christian!  I just realized that VMware is not doing NFR copies of NSX software for partners.  At least recently they were not.  So the only ones that can use this info is customers who have purchased (or their partners).  And purchased from special sales people.  Hopefully this will change soon and any VMware partner can try out NSX.

How to obtain and Install F5 Big-IP VE lab edition
I have not directly worked with the F5 gear, but my previous team was a big user and were always happy with it.  As a matter of fact, they only used the virtual edition, even in the big events.  So pretty cool.  In this blog the writer will help you obtain a copy of the Big-IP VE – for a lab cost of 95$ which is pretty darn good.  Plus he helps you get it going as well.  He has in the comments to the blog a link for an amazing F5 resource – if you work with F5, especially just starting out you should check this out.  If you need to add load balancers to you lab, to make it more realistic and powerful, than the F5 is a good choice, and it will not use much resources, and of course it will be very much like some of your customers!

Solving Issues with CloudPhysics
For those of you who have read my newsletter over the years you know I am a fan of CloudPhysics.  So I was quite happy to write about them in my new blog.  I wrote about three issues I have had that CloudPhysics has helped me find and deal with.  See the story here.

Stepping Up to 5 GHZ 802.11ac Wireless for the Home Lab
This is a good article about the author upgrading his lab to 802.11ac.  And it brings him quite a large improvement in performance as well.  I have been thinking about doing it in my house as well.  Not sure about how much penetration in older Apple gear that 802.11ac has made.  We will see.  But the article is petty interesting and useful.

Howto use vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) as DNS server
This is a very unsupported but interesting thing to do to your vCSA.  It does help minimize machines in your lab which is always good.  This blog will help you install and configure DNS so that it runs on your vCSA instead of on a different machine.  Only do this if you really need too.

Hostile Coding – Increasing VM read performances using vFRC and PowerCLI
This blog has an interesting article on using vFRC, as well as one on enabling with PowerCLI.

New Years Thoughts: Read the Packet Classics
The title was a bit of a surprise but it turns out the author has a good list of network books.  If you are starting out in Networking, or want to learn more, than there is a good list of networking books mentioned int his article.

Buying a storage array? 5 questions you should ask!
This author – who is unknown to me, has five good questions you should ask.  However, you should also consider asking what VMware Integration does it support?  Asked another way, what VAAI primitives does it support?  Background on primitives here.  This is important and you should expect significant integration in this area.  As well, is there a vCenter plug-in?  Many vendors will have a plug-in for vCenter but not for the vSphere Web Client but that is improving.  Considering how much a virtualization admin spends in vCenter integration with the array tools is key.  I have also suggested to customers who are thinking of buying new storage, is to talk to other users.  I do not mean a CTO talking to a CTO.  That is often not good due to the poor quality of information exchanged!  But talk to the admins and users of the storage and get a good picture of what it is like to manage and consume.  Also ask about the support too – is it easy to use, does it empower you to not need to talk to an actual support person?

VVOLS, VASA – and why it all Matters!
And matters they do indeed.  Many of you have heard about, or played with VSAN.  Remember how you can provision each VM on VSAN with different parameters like cache parameters or protection levels?  That is the forerunner of VVOLS.  The idea is to allow you to make storage decisions at a virtual machine level.  This is something I heard about at least several years ago, and every single customer who learns about this has agreed it is a critical step forward, but of course due to the heavy lifting at vendors it is a tough one to get to market.  For much more learning and information check out what Chuck has to say in this good read.

Auditing Active Directory with Netwrix Auditor 5.0
I quite agree with the author of this blog.  I too have visited many customers who have audit polices but with no way to confirm that all is being done as the rules require.  So his review of a tool to audit for things that don’t match the rules is quite interesting.  This sounds like a good tool, and it covers off both VMware and AD / Windows so that is pretty good.  Check out the article here.

vLaunchPad – recently updated
I saw that this was updated recently – even has my blog on it – so thanks very much for that!  See this incredible collection of links here.  There is a lot of other info – like all the VMware releases on this site as well as the links.

Virtual Geek – Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, and 2014 Top 10 Predictions
I have always like Chad a great deal, and enjoyed any time we were able to chat.  I also respect him a great deal.  Here is a link to his holiday wishes, but also his top 10 predictions for 2014.  I suspect his will be better than most!  Thanks Chad, and best wishes to you as well!

One small click for a man: NASA releases more than 17,000 pictures from the Apollo program
This is a short article with some amazing pictures of the space program.  Check it out here.  Very breathtaking pictures.

Computer Forensic Tools for the Laymen
Not sure how this came up, but someone was curious about the various tools available.  I was surprised to find a nice list here of the various tool categories and tools.

This is What It Looks Like Inside an Amazon Warehouse
This is an interesting selection of photos from inside an Amazon Warehouse.  This is one place I would love to get an interview!  When I worked for VMware – either as an DR specialist, or in R&D, I was able to get some amazing tours very easily, and I hope to not lose that ability!

A different look at Ashton Kutcher
I think of Ashton Kutcher as a funny guy on TV.  But I hear about him in Silicon Valley as an angel investor.  Just background chat when I am – or used to be – in certain groups.  But I never really thought about it.  But than someone suggested I watch him speak at a start-up school.  He was interesting.  Check it out here.

Thanks for reading or skimming this far!

Michael

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