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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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
Discussion from Cormac Hogan at


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.”

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!

Storage Expo 2011

Looking forward to Thursday 3rd of November! The Storage Expo is then taking place at Jaarbeurshallen Utrecht, together with Tooling Event and InfoSecurity. Last year it got me a job at a very exciting ICT-services company. This year I want to meet the guys from NetApp and Veeam, and see what other people can share at the various seminars and talks. See more at And, best of all, it’s free! Keep an eye on the badges, you might see me!