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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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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Dell iDrac FW 1.50.50 picky on time formats

As I recently discovered, a small “oops” on behalf of Dell:

New Dell PowerEdge servers are being shipped with iDrac firmware version 1.50.50. This specific firmware version has the unfortunate side effect that when you open the iDrac webpage (default IP address in IE11 with incorrect time and date settings, the login page is displayed without any Java elements. You basically can not log in.

In any browser, on any OS, the login page is displayed without any Java elements. Regional Date/time formats are NOT “English (United States)”. Login elements are not available, extra information is not available, nothing can be done in the page. Dell logo, some login boxes and some plaintext is visible.

Date/time formats are NOT “English (United States)” which causes Java elements not to run.

Go to Control panel – Region – Tab Formats. Change the date/time format to “English (United States)”. Reload the iDrac web pagem and all the elements in the login screen do work again. MIND YOU: This can cause legay or poorly written applications to bounce, break or just stop working. Think about the impact before you change it.

Downgrade the 1.50.50 verion to an earlier one, and wait for Dell to fix it.

Dell has confirmed this is a bug in their brand new fw 1.50.50 version. They are working on a new version in which this will be fixed. be patient, my young OutOfBand administrator ..

-+* Update *+-
Dell has released 1.51.51 which fixes this bug, amongst some others. See for more details.

Shameless Call for Hardware


In the past 6 months, I have had numerous discussions about the use of old hardware, or plainly put “Iron”,  in test / playground environments. Whilst virtualisation guys emphasise the need to virtualise everything, I am still an advocate of putting old and discarded hardware to use. (All hardware? Of course not. Read on.) For several reasons:

1) Even when virtualising the hell out of everything, you still need Iron to run it on. VMware ESXi or Workstation? Storage, CPU and RAM needed, thank you. Storage product simulators or other virtual appliances? Same here.

2) Iron, often of any age, still can provide functionality that extends beyond any virtual product available to mere mortals. An Equallogic Software Simulator is extremely hard to find. or, try to virtualise a complete FC fabric. Feel how an LC connector slides into an SFP. And so on.

3) Very often people like to touch things. They need to feel the hardware to get the idea behind the product, or technique. And yes, most pocket devices, phones or tablets have more computing power than an old NetApp FAS270, but the Iron still provides the possibility to design, build,  troubleshoot and perform destructive testing on. Something that software appliances mostly do not offer.


My current employer now gives me the opportunity to build two 19″ racks with iron, that can be used for a number of reasons:

– Create a reasonably representative environment with Storage, Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, VT-d capable servers and an FC fabric to use for testing, troubleshooting and replicating customer problems

– Create a software testing ground for elaborate and extensive testing of for example Group Policies, Citrix settings and Exchange optimalisation in a Known Environment

– Perform research for new products. Create installation manuals, best practices and Sales documents for products that can be added to our own Product Catalog.

– Offer an opportunity for technical young guns to expand their technical knowledge, and get used to working with project skills such as Time Management, Documenting and Reporting to stakeholders.

But, why all this? Well, let me refer back to the subject of this post. I have experienced in the last year that lots of hardware gets discarded every day. Perfectly working order, licenses available, functionality present .. and yet, it gets thrown in /dev/null. Well ..


I am very much looking for all sorts of old hardware. I can make it of use for our internal education department, I can create environments that can (up to a reasonable level) represent corporate setups, etc etc. So, OK, here it is .. please contact me when you have some stuff collecting dust on the shelf, and you think that it still has some capabilities.


I cannot collect and dust up every single time something is discarded. Even I have some (what I think reasonable) demands:

– For Servers: rackmount or blade center servers that are capable of running VMware ESXi 4.1 or higher
– For Storage:  NetApp (FAS3XX0 and higher), Compellent or EqualLogic hardware
– For switching: Managed Gigabit
– For Fiber Channel:  2gbit or higher is usable
– For tape products: LTO3 or higher standalone or libraries, FC or iSCSI
– Disks: 2.5″ or 3.5″ SAS or FC
– Anything else that can remotely possibly be of any use


 I’d really appreciate it if I can collect some things to get my hardware test / educational environment up and running with stuff that is in one way or another representative for  corporate environments.


Of course. But, otherwise I could never ask any of this to you. Thanks will be sent in return in the form of cake or beer.

Thanks in advance, cool stuff!

Cisco MDS 9120 Password recovery

In spare time, I often try to pry open old hardware that we received from customers. Most of the aren’t that hard, but some are more challenging. For example a Cisco MDS 9120 Multilayer FC switch. This one is totally different from the McData Sphereon 4500’s or EMC DS-24M2 and Brocades that I normally work with in my lab. Normal recovery procedures with the configuration register from Cisco ( won’t work either. OK, let’s google this, then. seems a nice hit. Just hit CTRL-j in the boot sequence and the switch(boot)# prompt appears. Right. But, after trying 5 times to get into the boot prompt, still no results. Back to the documentation. Read carefully: It’s not CTRL-j, but CTRL-]. I will try this tonight.

I will read the documentation better.
I will read the documentation better.
I will read the documentation better.
I will read the documentation better.