Friday, March 27, 2015

ESXi Home Lab

Everybody who loves technologies want to have your own lab environment, it does not matter if it’s just to test every feature, try new releases, study, prove concepts, create scenarios, test solutions or all of those together.

I’m not that different at all, after a long time, I finally finish building my ESXi home lab, since I did a lot of research to find out every piece of equipment I though why not to share it.

First, as every project, you guys need to understand my business requirements:

- Everything on a single box.
That’s it, I don’t want to pile up MAC Minis, Shuttle PC or HP Microservers.

- Scale up options.
If I’m going to make an investment I want it to last and give me future upgrade options, is it not what ROI is all about?

- I don’t need local storage.
I have an external storage that I will present LUNs to the hosts through an iSCSI connection.

Without further ado here my ESXi Home Lab parts:

Starting with the MainBoard, I choose a Supermicro one, X9DRL-IF.

Mainly, because it’s certified to run ESXi 5.5 and does not require to inject network drivers into the installer, but also because it comes with some USB ports that I used to install and boot up my ESXi host from. Another cool feature is the IPMI support, that way I don’t need to hook up any monitor to access it, I can access a remote console through the network, nice !!!!

It’s a dual processor MB, supporting up to 512GB of RAM.

That way I can run a few Virtual ESXi hosts and simulate quite a few environments.

This MB has LGA2011 socket type, it’s not the most modern processor available out there, but it’s good enough for my Lab, where I don’t need to run critical and financial applications, allowing me to save some bucks.

So, I got Intel Xeon E5-2603 v2 Quad-Core of 1.8 Ghz.
Something to notice is that this processor does not provide Hyper-Threading, but I’m pretty sure it will make the job done.

Nothing fancy about the heatsink, just pick-up a compatible one.

Memory is the most needed resource on a virtual environment, so for my Lab I picked up some 16GB banks of memory from Black Diamond.

If you want to reach the full MainBoard capacity, memory price will be insane, I don’t need all of that right now, but it gives the future upgrade option.

To feed this baby, you will need a power supply that provides a 24-PIN plus 2x 8-PIN connections, this kind of power supply is a little bit harder to find, but I managed to find out a Zalman ZM850-GVM.

To accommodate all those parts inside I got a Series 2000R Corsair case, that one impressed me by the cooling parts inside, I’m confident it will keep everything cold down there.

Last but not least, I need some network connectivity to access all of that, right ?!?
I decided to get a small network switch with WiFi built in, so I can have all in one again.
The chosen one was a  RB2011UiAS-2HnD-IN from Mikrotik with 4 Giga bit ports available, more than enough for my needs.

While these pieces might not be the most affordable ones, it fit’s my budget and more important my business requirements ; )

Now it’s up, running and properly branded !!!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

vSphere 6.0 Release

The time is now here! All the products announced on February 2, 2015 and a few others, were released past week.
While some of them may just looks like bug fixes or compatibility releases others bring amazing new features.
I’ll give just a peek at the highlights I choose, full features could be find at the release notes.

I don’t expect you guys to read all of this, but focus on the products will have today on your environment, you might find some new feature or a bug fix that will make your life easier. ; )

Good reading 
vCenter Server 6.0 | 12 MARCH 2015 | Build 2562643
ESXi 6.0 | 12 MARCH 2015 | Build 2494585
Wow, this release is amazing with things like, Long Distance vMotion, Cross vCenter vMotion, Web Client Performance enhancements, Virtual Volumes (VVOL) and some platform innovation like Platform Service Controller (PSC) service. It’s a good idea to check What’s New in vSphere 6 Platform guide.
Scalability is something huge on this release as well, just to give you an idea:
- Clusters of 64 nodes
- Hosts with 480 physical CPUs and 12 TB of RAM
- Virtual Machine Compatibility Level 6, allowing 128 vCPUs, and 4TB of RAM
If I were you I would check vSphere 6 Configuration Maximum guide.

vSphere Update Manager | 12 MARCH 2015 | Build 250319
The only thing here is a new embedded database version and support for Oracle Database

vRealize Automation 6.2.1 | 12 MAR 2015 | Build 2553372
Covering a lot of bug fixes this release also brought Secure Remote Console for VMs running on vSphere endpoint back !!!
Custom properties are reapplied in case you reprovision a VM.

Horizon View 6.1 | 12MAR 2015
What about shared vGPU, with NVIDIA ? Cool, right. Also it includes smart-card authentication for RDS desktops. Support for IPV6, Compatibility with vSAN 6 and VVOL and Windows 2012 support for VDI desktops

Site Recovery Manager 6.0 | 12 MAR 2015 | Build 2580226
Along with vSphere 6.0 support it now also supports Storage vMotion and Storage DRS on both the protected and recovery sites, protect and recovery of virtual machines using IPV6.

vSphere DataProtection (VDP) 6.0 Release Notes | 12 MAR 2015
This release kills the difference between standard/advanced. That means all features are included on a single version and a free version, how cool is that ?!?

VMware vSphere Replication 6.0 | 12 MAR 2015 | Build 2568808
This one brought a lot of enhancements, like:
- Network traffic compression: replicated data is now optionally compressed prior to being sent over the network, resulting in reduced replication times and less network bandwidth consumed.
- Linux guest OS quiescing: introducing Linux guest OS quiescing service to provide file-system level crash consistency to replicated Linux-based VMs.
- Scalability: each vSphere Replication Management Server can now configure for replication and manage a maximum of 2000 simultaneous replications, up from the limit of 500 replications today.

vCloud Network andSecurity (vCNS) 5.5.4 | 12 March 2015 | Build 2504419
This release upgrades all components, vCNS Manager and vCNS Edge, but, beside of a few bug fixes it adds support for vSphere 6.0, but beware that new vSphere 6 features have not been tested with this release of vCNS therefore it’s not supported, for more details check KB2109120.

vRealize Orchestrator 6.0.1 | 12 March 2015 | Build 2510741
It has some stability and management enhancements but more important compatibility with vSphere 6.0

vRealize Code Stream 1.1 | 12 March 2015 | Build 2553372
This release has a built-in and a step-by-step instruction how to set up everything along with how to videos. Nice if you ask me.
Also it enhanced integration with vRealize Automation, vRealize Orchestrator, Artifactory, Jenkins, PowerShell script & Bash script

VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO) 1.0 | 12 MARCH 2015 | Build 2567172
This release confirms the tight integration between VMware products, like vCenter, vRealize Operations and LogInsight for OpenStack operations.

vRealize Business Standard 6.2.1 | 12 March 2015 | Build 2548009
It’s more a compatibility release, allowing it to work with vSphere 6.0, vRA 6.2.1 and vROPs 6.0.1

vRealize Business Advanced and Enterprise 8.2.1 | 12 MARCH 2015 | Build 2522126
I see nothing but bug fixes, which is always good ; )

VMware vRealize Infrastructure Navigator Version 5.8.4 | 12 March 2015
Another compatibility release for vSphere 6.0 support.

It might have more, gosh !!!!

Friday, March 13, 2015

vRealize Automation Foundation and Concepts

Because we’ve been dealing with vCloud Director for many years now, their concepts and foundations, like Provider Virtual Datacenter, Organization Virtual Datacenter are well-founded.
Unfortunately it’s not true among my clients when it’s related to vRealize Automation, they still have doubts and misundertanding about the constructs of vRA. 
Let's give it a break, vRA is kind of a new kind on the block, we will get there.

I created a simple picture that can translate vCD concepts on vRA concepts.

While there is a few new constructs, I believe you can distinguish the common construct between them now.

Here's some details about the new constructs:

Enpoints: There are a variety of resources vRA can connect to other that vSphere, like vCloud Director, vCloud Air, Amazon, Hyper-V…

Fabric Groups: It’s a way of grouping resources together, that’s when you start to realize the granularity power of vRA, now you can have different users managing individual resources without compromising each other.

Reservation: Despite the name, it has nothing to do with vCD Allocation Models (Reservation/Allocation/PAYG), it’s simple an allocation of resources for consumption.

Business Group: While on vCD all users members of the same Org would have the same privileges on Catalogs/Templates/Org vDCs. On vRA you can group users of the same Tenant together on Business Group, then give each one distinct privileges. That’s another example of the granulatiry you can achive with vRA. 
Ex. On a Tenant you can have a BG for Production and other for Dev, then enable Dev users to have access to just a subset of the bluprints and provide their VMs on just a specific Reservation.

Entitlement: It’s a way to tie together which one (Fabric Groups) is entitle to what (Services), allowing another level of access granularity.

I recommend you to read the vRA Foundation and Concepts for a full range of details about those constructs.

See you next. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Unlock vRealize Orchestrator default VMware account

It happens to the best of us, you type a wrong password too many times and end up with an account locked.
Well, it happed to me when working to vRealize Orchestrator.

Curiously, the procedure is documented on Orchestrator Installation Guide, even though it took me a considerable amount of time to find it, so why not emphasize the procedure here and help others to find the solution quicker ?!?

When the default account (user=VMware) is locked out you will receive the error:  
Login failed: User/password mismatch or account temporarily blocked after too many unsuccessful attempts

It’s not clear yet how many failed attempts would lock the account and how many minutes it would automatically unlock it, if will. I’m contacting VMware’s engineers to find out more about it and I’ll update it here once I have the details.

This mean time, let's see how you unlock it.
You can reset/unlock your account tweaking file, depending where vRO is running on you will find this file at:

Running on vCenter: install_directory\VMware\Infrastructure\Orchestrator\config
Running standalone on Windows: install_directory\VMware\Orchestrator\configuration\conf\
Running on the appliance: /etc/vco/configuration/

I’ll show you the appliance steps, because I believe it is the most common deployment out there.

- Login through SSH on the Orchestrator Appliance
- cd /etc/vco/configuration/

Take a copy of the file just in case you want to restore it later

- cp

now edit the file with your preferred file editor.

Look for the line starting with vmware= (there should be a bunch of numbers and letters here, it’s the actual password, but encrypted)

Get ride of this line and replace it with:

Save the file and restart vRO services.

Give the appliance some minutes to take affect.

 Login back with:
User: vmware
Password: vmware

If you did it right you will be able to login and change the default password ; )

 Another tip: If you still receiving the block message even after going through all the steps above, it might be because you are using IE, there's some weird type of caching or cook playing here, just use another browser !!!!

Did it work for you ?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

2015 Top VMware & Virtualization blogs

Every year Eric Siebert ( launch a popularity blog contest, where you can show your appreciation and preferences about VMware and Virtualization blogs, and there’s a lot of them out there…this year you choose between more than 400 of them.

But with so many of them, what the criteria’s should I take into consideration ?
Well, it’s up to you ; )

I personally like Eric’s suggestion:

  • Longevity – Anyone can start a blog but it requires dedication, time & effort to keep it going. Some bloggers start a blog only to have it fall to the wayside several months later. Things always come up in life but the good bloggers keep going regardless of what is happening in their life.
  • Length – It’s easy to make a quick blog post without much content, nothing wrong with this as long as you have good content in the post that people will enjoy. But some bloggers post pretty long detailed posts which takes a lot of time and effort to produce. The tip of the hat goes to these guys that burn the midnight oil trying to get you some great detailed information.
  • Frequency – Some bloggers post several times a week which provides readers with lots of content. This requires a lot of effort as bloggers have to come up with more content ideas to write about. Frequency ties into length, some do high frequency/low length, some do low frequency/high length, some do both. They’re all good and require a lot of time and effort on the bloggers part.
  • Quality – It all comes down to whats in the blog post regardless of how often or how long the blog posts are. After reading a blog post if you come away with learning something that you did not previously know and it benefits you in some way then you know you are reading a quality post. Good quality is usually the result of original content, its easy to re-hash something previously published elsewhere, the good bloggers come up with unique content or put their own unique spin on popular topics.

What are you waiting for ?!?

 And if you think I worth your vote, I’m not that difficult to find.

If you are curious about the result of previous year you can find it here.

Thank you all !!!

Who am I

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I’m an IT specialist with over 15 years of experience, working from IT infrastructure to management products, troubleshooting and project management skills from medium to large environments. Nowadays I'm working for VMware as a Consulting Architect, helping customers to embrace the Cloud Era and make them successfully on their journey. Despite the fact I'm a VMware employee these postings reflect my own opinion and do not represents VMware's position, strategies or opinions. Reach me at @dumeirell

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