VMworld 2012: Final day

After 3 days of an information overload, the final day started off with PowerCLI scripting with Alan Renouf and Luc Dekens showing new features when using PowerShell 3.0 and some example scripts showing what PowerCLI can do.

Some other tips that were very useful to me is knowing about the existence of the SDK Referance guide, which contains all information about commands inside PowerCLI. The other tip was that when using PowerGUI, you can easily find all extended properties using the Debug mode that will help you create even more advanced scripts.

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After the sessions I was able to talk with Luc about the vCheck script I customized for multiple environments at my employer and ask how to improve it even further. When I get back coming week, I will try to make some time and post my improvements here for other people to use. Most of the improvements are applicable to environment-specific elements, but who knows; maybe it can still be used by others! =)

Next I went to the VCAP Datacenter Quickstart Session. This sessions is meant to prepare you for the VCAP Datacenter Administration and VCAP Datacenter Design and give you some pointers of what to do to prepare yourself like using the Exam Blueprint and some practical tips like study when you had enough sleep and to be on time at the exam to prevent stress.

The VCAP exams (Administration and Design) consist of live labs that you will be working with during your exam assignments. A (what I think) cool thing, is that the idea about using live labs is that you are actually working on a live environment. When you break your ESX host during the exam, it will be game over and you will fail the exam. If I recall correct, the Administration has 26 labs which you have to complete and afterwards you will hear if you passed or not. The Design exam is somewhat different, as you have to create diagrams in a Visio-like application where after it has to be reviewed by an examinator, which will take a while (approximately 2 weeks).

Finishing up with the quickstart session, I went to the Certification Lounge and did two labs that reflect the same kind of labs during the VCAP exam. These went well, so hopefully after (finally!) upgrading my VCP from 3.5 to 5.1 I will be allowed to do the VCAP exams.

I had 3 other sessions planned for today, but I went to the Solutions Exchange to have some conversations with HP, Cisco, VMware, Citrix, EMC and Mozy to get some information that might be of value in the environments I administer. The second reason for this is scoring goodies for my colleagues back in the Netherlands =)

At 16:00 I went to a session about vSphere replication with my colleagues and am very positive about this product! It’s free when you have a vSphere Essentials license and gives you the ability to replicate on VM-basis in a ROBO or backup site environment to make sure that during an outage, your VMs can be brought back online and ensure availability with a minimum downtime.

This will be my last blog about VMworld 2012 in Barcelona! I hope I was able to bring out the VMworld feeling to people reading my posts!

Thanks for reading and keep checking for new blog postings, as I will be filling it with tweaks, scripts, best practices and everything you can think of that can be of value when you are running into problems or setting up a new environment.

VMworld 2012: Day three

A late post of day three, because of the VMworld party that has been going on =)

This morning a keynote about End User access using VMware View and Mirage. Very cool stuff! You will be able to use your virtual desktop from any device: tablets, macbooks, Windows machines and all able to synchronize your desktop back to the datacenter. No more lost data when your device gets stolen or crashes due to a hardware failure!

The big vendors like HP, Cisco and EMC had to ‘battle out’ this morning for the best presentation, each given 4 minutes. EMC won, probably because of my vote 😉

After the keynote I followed the sessions listed below. Today a new feature in my blog: “Personal Highlights”! I made some notes during these sessions that are nice to know or are in some way applicable to the environments I work with. Hopefully they are of value to readers!

Session #1: GD26 – vSphere Storage Appliance (VSA) and Virtual Volumes (VVols) with Suzy Visvanathan
Personal Highlights: “A VSA cluster is formed using 2 or 3 nodes, but when using only 2 nodes you need a special plugin to provide a quorum. If you have the ability, use 3 nodes. The VSA supports RAID5,6 and 10 and supports online expanding of logical volumes starting from VSA 5.1. It’s possible to run the VSA on a host that already has VMs running so you don’t need to configure a new ESXi box running only the VSA!

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Session #2: INF-VSP1367 – Upgrading vSphere
Personal Highlights: “I already performed some upgrades of vCenter/ESXi environments including dvSwitches and VMFS filesystems but still wanted to confirm my knowhow with the VMware specialist. Note to self: Upgrade VirtualCenter first, then your ESXi hosts, followed by the VMware Tools and Virtual Hardware. Upgrading these last 2 components is optional. Check out the new enhancements like more vCPUs or memory capacity but if you don’t need it, it’s not a requirement. If you are upgrading, make sure you upgrade the Virtual Hardware after upgrading all ESXi hosts in the cluster.

Session #3: OPS-CIM2179 – Transforming Your Cloud with VMware: Day One – Building Your Cloud
Personal Highlights: “It’s really important to know the demands of your environment to decide whether you want to implement vCloud Director or not. The VMware technician told me that if you CAN wait, then you SHOULD wait until the 2nd quarter of 2013 because of a new version coming out that will seamlessly run within ESXi.

Session #4: APP-BCA1684 – Virtualizing Exchange Best Practices
Personal Highlights: “A lot of stuff I didn’t know about virtualizing Exchange: Thin disks are not supported, as well as machine snapshots (Could’ve guessed this but ok..) and using a thick eager zeroed disk for your mailbox database disks.

Session #5: INF-VSP1800 – vSphere Performance Best Practices
Personal Highlights: “When in a stable environment, the Transparent Page Sharing mechanism is active at all times, but when you are in trouble, or just warned of performance issues, this is when the Balooning, Compression or Swapping is going on. When setting your power profile in BIOS to OS controlled, it is possible to regulate power from the vSphere Client. Using a low-power profile is not recommended since you can experience performance issues. Last but not least the use of shares is recommended for CPU, memory and storage (Storage I/O).

Brainfart: “General discussions are cool! It’s a really interactive way to form a session using feedback of attendees and input your own question to it!

Today was a good day and saw about 30 minutes of sun today because of the interesting sessions! I just got back from the VMworld party and enjoyed some beers with my colleagues. Getting a little hungry now because of the small appetizers we had for dinner =)

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Thanks for reading again! Tomorrow will be the last day of VMworld 2012: Barcelona so that’s where my blogging will end for VMworld. I will keep this blog filled with technical information so people can learn of use my experiences.

VMworld 2012: Day two

This day started with a keynote kicked off by Steve Herrod using 3 big-ass screens (of which each screen was driven by 6 HD beamers!) and an impressive musical show using drums.

Most items were summaries from yesterday and recapping that the Cloud infrastructure is the environment you want to aim for and start by virtualizing your current physical environment.

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A both cool and funny demo was given about using social media to monitor your vSphere virtual infrastructure. When a VM went down, some kind of tweet was sent with the warning message inside to indicate that a problem was active.

Next, all VMs that were somehow related to the offline VM and experienced a problem due to this, started liking the warning post so you could exactly identify the impact! Again a cool and funny way to see the working of it.

After the keynote it was finally time to do some technical sessions! My schedule for today was:

INF-NET2162 – VXLAN Deep Dive
INF-VSP1168 – Architecting a Cloud Infrastructure
INF-VSP2203 – Datacenter of the Future
INF-SEC1388 – VMware Go: The Zen for Small and Midsized Business IT Management (Business Value)
INF-SEC1840 – VMware vSphere Hardening to Achieve Regulatory Compliance: Better, Faster, Stronger

Some sessions were interesting and interactive, some were rather boring and I had trouble keeping my eyes opened, but hey! I submitted feedback to VMworld about the specific sessions =)

I skipped the VMware Go session, because I had a different idea about this session. It appeared this was a hosted solution by VMware to use when you don’t have a virtualization environment yet and have minimal knowledge about virtualization. Since this doesn’t match my employer and myself, I traded this sessions for the GD16 – Virtual Networking and the vSphere Distributed Switch with Vyenkatesh Deshpande session.

This session was very interactive and I was able to ask some questions and even got some answers that I can use in live environments.

The INF-SEC1840 sessions was handy as well. Explaining the reasons and ways for applying best practices to your VMware environment is something I will try and perform at environments when I’m back in the office of my employer.

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Finally I visited the Solutions Exchange to get some goodies for my colleagues back in bad-weather Holland =)

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VMworld 2012: Day one

Today was a day full of waiting, but thankfully enough to see and great weather conditions!

After arriving at the Barcelona airport, me and my colleagues had to wait for transport, but it never came. We waited for about 1 hour until we decided to contact both travel agency and transport company but it appears that the transport agency was a ‘fake’ and scammed more people. The cab outside did it’s job for a small price, so hey, no hard feelings =)

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The hotel is wonderful! We are staying in the Renaissance Barcelona Fira Hotel with a swimming pool on the roof (26th floor) with an incredible view on Barcelona, large room with modern bathroom, livingroom and kingsize bed. Again, a great view!

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In the afternoon we headed for the VMworld 2012 registration and got our badges, receiving our goodie bags and continuing for some Hands-On Labs and the keynote where we are told that VMware is aiming for partners more then ever and they need us to sell more software. With all the numbers going on on the main screens I remembered why I chose to be a technician and not a salesman =D

This VMworld is going to concentrate around the vCloud products and setting up a modern infrastructure with plenty ways to keep you VMs up and running. Good to know that most of the sessions I registered on are about this subject, so I’ll be inside the clouds in no time!

But for now; some sleep is needed to prepare myself for the coming days!

Thanks for reading.

VMworld 2012: Preparing for Barcelona

It’s time to fire up my yet so tiny blog and fill it with new posts during the days of coming week.

The reason for this is me being able to attend VMworld 2012 in Barcelona and want to share what’s going on inside for curious people who were not able to attend and colleagues that would like to know what’s going on in Spain =)

I have attended smaller events like VMUG and are in my opinion an effective and nice way to keep IT people informed about new technologies, best practices and different methods of designing and implementing infrastructures. I think VMworld will provide me with usable information which I can (hopefully) use in live environments!

Tomorrow I will start packing stuff for the trip and the coming week. Including enough energy and a perfect mood!

So; starting from now a regular update with news about VMworld 2012 and technical posts that may prevent you from pulling your hair =D