OK, I have a hobby. So what.

As can be seen in some previous posts, I have a strange preference for old hardware. See my Shameless Call for Hardware  and The Vintage Hardware Stack. Especially old Storage Devices. The feeling of happiness and sheer joy when an old monster wakes up, boots, and everything goes green, is very nice. Allthough much of the equipment is no longer capable of delivering much-needed performance nowadays, it still has a lot of the functions that are used in (be it monolithic) setups currently being used. A hobby like this has its disadvantages though. Continue reading “OK, I have a hobby. So what.”

Tech Field Day Extra 2014, The Day Before..

As I posted a couple of weeks ago in the VMworld 2014 US, Tech Field Day Extra enabled! post, I am  a delegate at Tech Field Day Extra, an event run by Stephen Foskett and his team. The VMworld 2014 US edition consists of three days in which a number of companies will be presenting the newest and nicest they can bring to us without getting into trouble. I’ll be attending the Day #3 sessions with EMC / XtremIO, Infinio and Nuage Networks. I am looking forward to meeting these companies, and see what they have to offer! Let’s introduce these three:

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The Vintage Hardware Stack: a new life for old hardware

Remember my Shameless call for hardware, some time ago? In that post I explained in short my idea of a pile of old hardware that could serve as an unique playground for young administrators. Well, I’ve made some big progress with that. Last june, my employer thought it was a good idea to put an interview online in which I explain the Vintage Hardware Stack initiative. Good read, if you’re good at Dutch. But if you’re not, I’ve taken the liberty to translate the Dutch post so you can all read it. A tad long, but nevertheless still quite a project. Have fun reading!

Thanks to OGD that I could translate the post and place it on my own blog. Oh, and we’re always open for donations!

Continue reading “The Vintage Hardware Stack: a new life for old hardware”

Surviving VCAC 6.0 install: Tips & tricks

When installing vCAC 6.0, please do follow This wonderful HowTo by Kendrick Coleman

But, when an install fails, it’s not nice. See it like shooting a musquito with a 17th century musket: it takes 5 minutes reloading to take a new shot after firing at a target you can not see. Some tips that helped me:

Preparing an installation:
– Make the service account member of the local administrators group. Makes life a lot easier when creating files, IIS operations etc
– Make the service account sysadmin on your SQL server, at least while creating the databases. I let the installer do that job of creating the database, btw
– Run the setup.exe file as an administrator
– Run the great powershell script provided by Kendrick as an administrator

When the install did fail however, how to reset your musket:

– Clear the c:\users\<installingaccount>\download folder of the .exe AND .XML file
– Delete the vCAC database on your SQL server
– Delete the Repository, VCAC and WAPI applications in your Default Website through IIS manager
– Delete the RepositoryAppPool, VCACAppPool and WAPIAppPool in the ApplicationPool through IIS manager
– Delete the c:\program files (x86)\vmware folder (don’t foret to close the logfile too, otherwise deletions will fail 🙂 )

And have another go!

Helpful things: Network restore with vDS / Virtual Distributed Switches

When moving a host from standard vswitching to a vDS / Distributed Switch, it usually goes well. Consider the objective you want to achieve, make a migration plan, execute and get coffee. But, there are times that you didn’t pay attention to your plan, or any errors in it. Or the environment wasn’t made according to the documentation in front of you. Then a host can get disconnected, isolated or an inconsistent vDS configuration can occur between vCenter and host. With normal vSwitching, reparing misconfigurations can be easily fixed by logging in directly at the host with the vSphere C# client, or connecting to the DCUI and change the management network settings. From there on, you can connect to your host again and fix things. But, a vDS setting can not be changed in a direct connected vSphere client or DCUI, because it’s a vCenter managed thing. Or can it ..

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VMworld 2014 US, Tech Field Day Extra enabled!

This has been an amazing year for me so far. It held fear for the unknown (moving between houses), excitement and tension (presenting at our annual meeting for many a colleague), interesting work projects (amongst others, designing and implementing one of the most challenging environments for me so far, combining Nimble Storage, vSphere and SRM into a complex dual datacenter design for a Dutch local government. VCDX worthy, but that’s for another post) and, above all, passing the VCAP-DCD exam. But the coolest thing still has to come ..

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VSAN Part 1: My VSAN Lab

As seen in previous posts, I still believe in full hardware based labs, against hypervirtualised lab environments. So, I decided to build one suitable for a lot of things, including VSAN! It may not be completely supported, but it will work for me. And it’s all free. Ah, free .. I’ve paid a good cake for it.

3x HP DL360 G5:

  • 2x Xeon 5405’s
  • 40GB RAM
  • 1x IBM 15GB SSD, placed in a HP 2.5″ bracket
  • 1x 73GB 15K 2.5″ SAS disk
  • 1x 146GB 10K 2.5″ SAS disk
  • Extra PCI-e dualport Gigabit NIC
  • ESXI 5.5
So, that’s an SSD and two disks per host. SSD is
1x HP DL320S Storage Server:
  • 12 x 500GB Sata disks
  • Extra PCI-e dualport Gigabit NIC
  • Server 2012 with iSCSI Targets enabled for SHared Storage
HP ProCurve 1810-24G
  • 24 x 1gbit copper + 4 dualIdentity SFP ports
All neatly placed in an old 34U NetApp Filer rack.
ESXI is installed, but then moving houses came in between. Once I have my power and network infra in place in my new house, I’ll write on.

Hurray! VCAP-DCD

Finally! After the massacre of Barcelona (so many people failed the exam overthere) I passed VCAP-DCD510!

100 questions, 275 minutes.. very challenging! The exam tests both theoretical knowledge of the VMware vSphere product as experience in the field. You can learn everything theoretically, but if you don’t have any design experience you will fail. But, some suggested reading if you want it:

– The VCAP-DCD510 Blueprint (v2.8 at march 2014). This is the foundation of the exam. This document describes everything you should know and be able to do. At first, the document seems unstructured and vague. Once you dig deeper, the order and structure of things really appears. And DO pay attention to all of the links, some questions will address content directly found in the additional documentation.
– VMware vSphere Desing v2 – Forbes Guthrie & Scott Lowe
– Mastering Vmware vSphere 5 – Scott Lowe (again)
– vSphere Clustering Deepdive – Duncan Epping
– VMware vSphere documentation. Sounds silly (who reads documentation), but do it. The information in the documents is invaluable.
– VMware official Certification Guide for VCAP-DCD. Allthough from VMware itself, I think that it does not cover all the stuff of the exam. Prep exam is a nice starter, but absolutely NOT representative for the real exam

But, above all, experience DOES count. Use a real project to train the design methodology mentioned in the blueprint, it will be VERY useful. Doubt everything, question everything, trust no one but your own experience and knowledge. Then you will pass.

Thanks go out to the VCDX’s at VMUGNL, they gave a wonderful bootcamp for wannabe VCAP’s or VCDX’s. It was outstanding.

Next up, VCAP-Cloud!

3 commands for easy Nimble

OK, just a small thing I’d like to share:

When checking an iSCSI Nimble setup, 3 tiny commands can make your life a lot easier. In VMware ESXi 5.lul, SSH to a host and get your storage straight:

1) If not already done so: change the default Path Selection Policy to Round Robin for new disks:

esxcli storage nmp satp set –default-psp=VMW_PSP_RR –satp=VMW_SATP_ALUA

2) Set all your already connected Nimble disks, and only Nimble disks, to Path Selection Policy RoundRobin (VMW_PSP_RR) Handy in a mixed storage provider environment!

for i in `esxcli storage nmp device list | awk ‘/Nimble iSCSI Disk/{print $7}’ | sed -e ‘s/(//’ -e ‘s/)//’`; do esxcli storage nmp device set -d $i –psp=VMW_PSP_RR;done

3) Set the IOPS to “1”in the Path Selection Policy VMW_PSP_RR for each connected Nimble disk as a new recommendation from NimbleStorage

for i in `esxcli storage nmp device list | awk ‘/Nimble iSCSI Disk/{print $7}’ | sed -e ‘s/(//’ -e ‘s/)//’`; do esxcli storage nmp psp roundrobin deviceconfig set –type “iops” –iops=1 –device=$i; done

More info for ESXCLI command options at http://pubs.vmware.com/vsphere-50/index.jsp?topic=%2Fcom.vmware.vcli.examples.doc_50%2Fcli_manage_storage.6.5.html
Discussion from Cormac Hogan at http://cormachogan.com/2013/07/08/automating-the-iops-setting-in-the-round-robin-psp/


I asked Nimble how they got to the IOPS=1 part, and they said:

“This is as the result of extensive internal testing. We have nothing available for customers, this was changed due to an issue we identified when migrating host profiles and is also set automatically by our NCM plugin.”