Newsletter: May 25, 2014

Hello all,

I am home and very happy indeed to be here!  As much as I like working in our HQ, and the things I can accomplish there in person are key, it is very nice indeed to return home.  Not only my wife, and the great life we have, but also the lab and the ability to work with less distraction.  I have added my wife’s India pictures to my Pictures page.  Some great pictures of India if you are curious.

I was lucky this past week to meet one of the new partners that DataGravity is likely to work with. Pretty cool as I think they are a great partner and I quite look forward to working with them!

I have a number of blog posts under way – Windows 2012 template updates, BGInfo, SolarWinds, but none are finished yet, but I do have a bunch of things I have seen that I would like you to see.  Something for everyone I trust.


Alert: Win2K8R2 and Solaris 10 64-bit VMs blue screen or kernel panic when running on ESXi 5.x with Intel E5 v2 processors
This is something I have heard of happening in the wild so it is something to be aware of.  There is no solution yet but there is a workaround to help avoid this issue until there is a solution.  Find out the details here.  While the workaround will avoid the issue, it is not ideal, and I hope we can get a solution sooner.  The article implies a BIOS upgrade may be the solution but we will see.  By the way, I used a CloudPhysics card called Host Inventory that showed me the CPU series of my hosts that confirmed I do not have this issue!  Have I mentioned before how much I like CloudPhysics?!  Here is some further information that was out before the KB article.

One vs. multiple VSAN disk groups per host
This is a good article by Duncan as I have heard people talk about this, and it is important.  When I was playing with VSAN I experimented with one and two disk groups, and of course I came to realize that two is better than one – if that fits with the environment and requirements.  Find out more on this with Duncan.

Learning more about care and feeding of VMware NSX?
I was asked about this recently and of course I remembered sharing things about it in the past but I looked for something new.  Chris Wahl has a new article and a Series landing page which you can find here.  As well, there is a multi-part series that starts with the NSX install here.  Both are great ways to get started.

VMware VCAP-CIA Exam Experience and Recommendations
Michael talks about in this blog the experience he had with getting through the exam process successfully.  If you are thinking of this exam this is something to read.

Why AutoLab makes building your home lab simple
This is a good intro to AutoLab and can be quite useful for studying for certification exams, or trying out a feature before you show up at a customer!

vCO Workflow to Create a Distributed Virtual Switch – Parts 1 through 4
This is a pretty deep article series on creating a VDS using vCO.  However, there is no information on how to use the information in this set of articles so I guess that means it is only for people that know what to do with it!  I have met and chatted with the author Simon and he is very smart indeed around this space.  So very good info I think.  Find part 1 here.

Creating VUM Friendly ESXi Images for Home Lab Supermicro Servers
This is a nice article about how to update an ESXi image so that it has custom drivers in it but yet can still be used for installs or by VUM.  That is the important part – by VUM.  Even if you are not interested in adding the network support that is shown in this article the process is good to know – and the script is handy too!

vSphere 5.5 U1 NFS issue
I have not seen any updates in the KB 2076392 article on the NFS issue in U1.  Worrisome since there has been no updates in this article since May 12.  So I would recommend all of you who are using Update 1 to make sure you have the alert configured that William has blogged about here.  I use NFS in my lab, on 1 GB dedicated network, and using an LenovoEMC px4-300d.  I have low utilization on it but nevertheless I have not had this issue.  But I am watching for the solution, and I hope the alert doesn’t fire signifying I am now having the issue!

Change vCenter server logs location
While you can find out how to do this here, it is strongly recommended by me to NOT do this.  It will make support harder since they will not find the logs as quick, or the support bundle too may not find them (once upon a time it could not but that should have been fixed by now…).  If disk space is an issue, and you cannot provide additional disk space (and my how that is easy nowadays – all done hot too!) than I would suggest you send all the logs off via syslog to a syslog destination and than tweak the log rotation so that you control the space more carefully.  You can learn more about syslog agents that work on Windows here – I recommend and use the Datagram option – but when Log Insight 2.0 is GA I will recommend the Windows Agent that is part of that since I am using it now and quite like it.  The info for the vCSA logs can be found in this and you can find the Windows log file in C:\ProgramData\VMware\VMware VirtualCenter\Logs.  Depending on the tool you use to monitor this folder you can essentially say to watch vpx-*.log.  In the past I used to put all VMware applications on Drive G to avoid this issue, but I understand there are issues with that currently.  I also do in fact send all logs off to Log Insight, and I think that should be a best practice – not necessarily LI but to whatever tool you use.  If this is still not enough to help, maybe you can schedule deletes (or move to new location) of the zipped log files.

How to delete the vsanDatastore for VMware Virtual SAN
This article steps you through the process of removing the vsanDatastore when you are not going to use it any longer.  Important note, if you do as this blog author suggests, by removing disk groups it will clean the disks as that is done so they will be ready for use in whatever way you need.

My first look on VMware VSAN observer
You can find a blog here to get started with the VSAN Observer.  A bit more info is here.  A nice series on this subject starts here, continues to here, and finishes here. Knowing how to use the Observer is pretty useful when you are troubleshooting and working with VSAN.

VMware: A PowerCLI module to massively backup / restore ESXi hosts config
This is a nice article that shows you how to backup and restore ESXi config info using PowerCLI.  Quite handy.

Thin Provisioning Considerations when formatting volumes in a Guest OS
This is a good article to be aware of and familiar with if you use thin provisioned volumes.  But the default option to do a Quick format in Windows is a good one!

How to convert thick zeroed virtual disk to thin and save storage space
A nice article about a potential thin / thick issue but also info on converting between thick and thin.

vSphere Hardening Guide 5.5 Update 1 beta now available
Mike has announced the availability of the Hardening Guide.  You can find whats new and the guide here.  For those people out there with opinions please let Mike know what you think – especially if you have ideas on how to make things better – or more secure without impacting negatively end users.

Log Insight 2.0 Announced
I have been using LI 2.0 beta for some time and I am very happy with it indeed.  I think it is splendid software and I am happy it has been announced.  What I don’t understand is why it is not released too!  But we are getting close and I thought I heard somewhere it would only be a matter of a few weeks after it was announced.  Check out Steve’s announcement here, and another is here.

vCloud Director 5.5 Upgrade: Storage Profiles and Missing Datastores
If you are about to do an upgrade of vCD from 5.1.x to 5.5.x you should check this out.  Really.

Automating Failover with SRM and PowerCLI
Another great blog by Ken on PowerCLI and SRM. This is dangerous knowledge however.  I think automated test is great and makes things a little easier but the fact is I worry about automated fail-over since an accidental fail-over is a wonderful denial of service attack if it is not warranted!  This information though is quite useful.  I know a customer that wants to have the control of SRM in a web portal that is used for DR work.  This PowerCLI is now able to make that work.  They have controls in place to make sure accidental fail-overs do not work but yet they have a workflow for approvals that provides extra controls and good audits and in the UI that people are already familiar with.

Building More PowerCLI Custom Functions for SRM, Step by Step Walk-through
Ken did a great blog about using PowerCLI to work with SRM.  It was much harder than anyone would expect due to the fact that SRM has no cmdlets in PowerCLI (yet).  So it was harder, but Ben in this article has got the info to turn some of that hard into a function.  Very nice!

vCenter Operations for Horizon View
In this blog the author talks about the value of vC Ops for View and while he has good points he misses something I have seen with vC Operations for View that I think is amazing.  You can select a user and see how that specific user is doing in the stack with respect to performance.  So you get a help desk call and they tell you things are slow but not much more.  So this is a way to investigate that sort of complaint.  Very handy indeed.

vCenter Operations – Post #9 – Right-Sizing Virtual machines with vC Ops
This is an important capability in vC Ops as I have often seen a mix of too big and too small virtual machines at customers.  In fact it is more often too big.  This can be quite wasteful and something you may want to consider doing something about.  vC Ops can help and you can learn how in this article.

vCenter Operations Manager community
I had not seen this before but whether new, or just new to me, there is a vC Ops community you can find here.  There are videos, and forums for questions and answers.

Application dependencies with vCenter Infrastructure Navigator
This product, also known as VIN, is amazing.  I use it in my labs and have come to depend on it for a variety of work.  Helping me identify what applications should be part of DR – especially the background apps people don’t think about like DHCP / DNS / AD but also database servers or application servers too.  But I also use this app in the simple check of what does this host or VM provide before I shut it down.  Very handy.  Find an introduction of VIN right here.

vCAC to vCO Magic Secrets Revealed
This is a two part guide on the ability of vCAC to utilize vCO extensibility to accomplish a variety of things.   It will help you understand how to utilize vCO to do things.  This is hard stuff, and it is quite useful so it is good to find this and I hope it helps people out with adopting vCAC.

Quick and Easy vCAC 6.0.x Troubleshooting
Eric has some great ideas to remember when installing vCAC and they can help you avoid issues.  Check it out here.

Cannot logon to vCAC portal and you get Internal error when logging on as the root tenant
This is a little worrisome.  Most customers will likely run into this 90 days approximately after the install of vCAC.  The article has information that will allow you to understand and avoid this issue.  So very good he found the issue for us!

Application Director Install
You may not know this software.  It is part of a suite that comes with vCAC and vCAC is more often discussed without mention of what I (and others) call AppD.  It is an important part of the suite and in fact you can do some things much easier with AppD as compared to vCAC.  I have not seen install info on the Internet for AppD before so I was surprised to see it and thought I should share it in case it helps someone out – which I know it will.  Find part 1 and part 2.  This is from the fellow who has the Little Black Book of vCAC.  You can find the AppD docs here but I could not find the product page for you!

See how VMware Fusion 6 compares too…
This article shows the differences between VMware Fusion 5 and 6 as well as comparing 6 and 6 Pro.  But near the end where it compares 6 with Parallels there is something very interesting.  It looks like in the price for Fusion 6 it covers three personal Macs.  Nice!

SQL 2012 Database Backups w/ Avamar 7
I am sharing this article as I know there are some of you who look at this newsletter that use Avamar but also because this article talks about a change in behavior that SQL 2012 has.  I suspect that this issue could be seen by DBA’s in other situations – not just backup with Avamar but maybe with other backup tools or in other ways.

virtuallyGhetto gets a bit less ghetto
I heard someone wanting to change their blogging environment and I know William has some info on that here.  Hope it helps.

Linux Performance
This is an interesting page I found that talks about Linux Performance tools, documentation and even past talks on the subject.

EMC World 2014 Highlights (abridged)
This is from Cormac on his site and it is a quick summary of what popped up at EMC World this year.  Check it out to see Cormac’s view on what happened.

The 101 Best IFTTT Recipes
Here is an interesting collection of the supposed 101 best IFTTT recipes.  BTW, IFTTT is If This Then That and is an surprising service on the Internet.  It integrates with a very wide range of services and applications, and it allows you to produce a recipe which is a collection of actions.  For example, one recipe might be if it starts raining outside my house to change my HUE lights to blue.  But there is a lot of powerful and flexible possibilities so if you are interested you can find the top 101 of them here.  Than if it sounds like something for you, this might help you get started.

Home Lab Series: Storage
I know a few people that are looking at home lab storage.  I have suggested QNAP in the past, as well as even once Lenovo EMC gear.  But for a variety of reasons – including full VAAI support and VMware HCL, I suggest now Synology gear.  I have not got any of my own, but I know a number of people that have it in home labs and are very happy with it.  If I started over again, or if I have to replace my QNAP and LenovoEMC I would do so with Synology gear.  Here is an expensive example of Synology in a home lab.

I lost my job to AWS
I think that this article is interesting and he has a good point.  We will see a shift over time that will mean less of the traditional IT people as more of the services that a customer had traditionally inside their walls and needed IT people for will shift outside the company and to the cloud.  I think the average IT guy who goes home each night at roughly the same time and doesn’t grow his skills, or get advanced training will be the one that is impacted the worse.  Companies will still need architects and security people, and some of the general IT guys will still be needed even after their applications are in the cloud, but they will be the ones that are working or leaning in that direction already and understand added value.  The landscape will be different and as always the ones who don’t realize that will be left behind and the ones who do will find themselves shifting too.

OmniFocus 2 for Mac Brings a Fresh Look to GTD
I know a number of you like the Getting Things Done idea of productivity and one of the best tools for that on the Mac has been recently updated.  Find a review on it here.

This is an interesting app.  With both the iPhone and Mac apps installed, you will get notified on your Mac for any IOS notifications on your phone.  So you know who is calling or any push notifications you get on the iPone but yet seen on the Mac.  Sort of handy I think.

Navy SEAL Commander tells Students to make their beds every morning in Incredible Commencement Speech
I would have loved to hear this speech in person.  I was not a SEAL, in fact I never even met any.  The closest I came to meeting people like that was the SAS guys I knew.  But this story rings strong and true to me.  I remember the recruit training, and other tough stuff I went through.  It is part of the reason I am strong and successful today.  Some very good lessons in this speech.  Absolutely.

TechEd 2014 Interview – Mark Russinovich on Microsoft Azure
I have known of Mark Russinovich for a long time.  I was worried when he was absorbed by Microsoft how things might be impacted. And I must admit my concerns were all for naught.  Check out this interview with him on Azure.

TechEd 2014 – Malware Hunting with Mark Russinovich and the Sysinternal Tools
Here is a link to the very popular session that Mark Russinovich did at TechEd.  He has done this talk in years past and it is always good.  Some good info on some great tools!

Virtual SAN Training for World-Class Storage
When I saw this I smiled as I thought that it was a bit silly.  VSAN is really pretty easy to install / configure / manage.  A little bit of research can help you with the design.  So no real need for a course.  But as I thought more about it I realized that troubleshooting is a bit tough.  Using RVC is a bit odd too, so maybe it does make sense to have some training on the troubleshooting for sure.  The nice part is if you design it right, there will be very little troubleshooting needed.  And the book that Cormac / Duncan are doing will likely do you very well in all aspects with VSAN so take the training with VSAN if you have time, but if you don’t you will be fine with the book.

HP StoreVirtual VSA – introduction and installation
You can learn about the great product that HP has for virtual storage in this, but you can learn about install in this and this.  I am a big fan of this software and I really like the UI as well.

Cool Tip – Open Command Window Here is back!
Not sure if many of you will remember an add – in to Windows that Microsoft had long ago.  One of the nice things about it was a right click on a folder would provide an extra option – Open Command Window here which was a very easy way to drop right to command line in the folder you wanted.  I just discovered this functionality is available in Windows 8.1 and Windows 2012.  It is now shift + right click and it is nice to have it back!

Play Internet torrents on Apple TV 3, TV 2, or TV
I was surprised to stumble across this – I don’t use torrents but I know people who do and I think that this will be helpful for them.  I know a number of people that carry Apple TV’s with them when they travel and this might be good for them. And yes, I did just buy a new Apple TV to carry in my travels.

The ultimate James Bond Watch
I know a bunch of you like James Bond movies, and some of you like watches.  Here is an opinion piece that may make you smile.  You will see the watches that might make the ultimate James Bond watch.

Thanks very much for reading – or skimming, and have a great week!


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3 thoughts on “Newsletter: May 25, 2014

  1. Reblogged this on Eck Tech and commented:
    Former VMware and now Data Gravity employee continues to compile healthy bits of virtualization news, blogs, and info with some general tech-nerd-geekery sprinkled in. This is definitely worth your read and I also recommend subscribing. It is one of the few compilation newsletters I enjoy reading.

  2. Michael, for a variety of reasons we had to announce Log Insight prior to availability for a variety of reasons. It should be available mid-June. For your readers: To be notified when it is available, sign up here:

    1. Thanks Bill. I have talked to lots of customers on this and they all said the same thing. They would prefer announce and GA on same day. I would like that too – more fun in a way. Like Apple does sometimes. And thanks for the URL, I have already signed up. That is a good idea too so thanks.


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