Fun with cloud and AutoLab

I spent a lot of April working on AutoLab and with Ravello Systems to get AutoLab available form public cloud.

I have just released AutoLab version 2.6, which has support for vSphere 6. This is the fastest I’ve released support for a new release of vSphere and it was made possible in part by VMware finally making automated vCenter installation easy and partly by the support of Ravello. The documentation for automating the installation vCenter on Windows is in this pdf. Essentially you create a JSON file, either by recording an install or by editing examples, and pass that file to the installer. Another nice feature is that the installer does a pre-flight check and if the check fails it leaves a log of the fatal error. This error log helped me identify a fault in the DC build that was preventing vCenter installing.

Since vSphere 6 doubles the minimum RAM required for AutoLab, compared to vSphere 5.0, you may not be able to reuse your existing lab host. This is where Ravello can be really helpful. You can use their platform to deploy AutoLab on top of public cloud from either Amazon or Google. Rather than buying an AutoLab host you can rent one from Ravello. You still get all the rebuildability of AutoLab, but you need only pay for the resources while you are running AutoLab. In my tests it was costing under $3 per hour to run an AutoLab, if you only need a few hundred hours of AutoLab this is going to be a great option. Also if you need to scale up your AutoLab for a while you can simply pay for the extra resources while you need it, scaling back when the need is over. The final Ravello benefit may be unique to me, I often want to run multiple AutoLab instances and find I don’t have enough hardware, so again renting the cloud hardware for the duration of the project is a great option.

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Wellington VMUG

It has finally happened, I will be in Wellington when the Wellington VMUG is meeting.

I will be speaking about progressing your career in IT.

You can register here

Joining me presenting is the unstoppable Rawlinson Rivera talking about VSAN.

I really should have posted this a week or two ago, the meeting is tomorrow!!

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My World Tour is about to begin

It is getting to the exciting anticipation stage. Tomorrow I leave home for the first leg of my Hyperconverged World tour with SimpliVity. I will be speaking about how we came to need Hyperconverged solutions. I will be joined on stage by Ron Wang who is a Solution Architect, he will demonstrate the SimpliVity solution. We will also have Scott Morris who is SimpliVity’s VP for Asia Pacific and Japan to close the proceedings and draw the recipient of the prize, an iPad Mini.

There are still places available, so click your city below to register:

I’m looking forward to this whirlwind tour, hopefully I can catch up with a few of my friends in the region.

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HyperConverged Global Tour

In December I and a few other bloggers spent a couple of days in Boston as the guest of SimpliVity. We spent a while talking about their products now and what we thought would be good for the future. I enjoyed my time there and enjoyed both the very cool product and the great people. Now I’m thinking of those same people’s homes with a few feet of snow, while I’m enjoying New Zealand’s summer.

Image result for boston snow 2015 

A very interesting part of the SimpliVity solution is a custom add-in card. This has my electronics design background excited. Gate arrays and special purpose hardware is fun stuff. If you thought that HyperConverged meant that hardware wasn’t important then the SimpliVity architecture might be a surprise.

I’m now delighted to be joining SimpliVity for a HyperConverged Global Tour, or at least the part that is in my region. I will be talking about the why and what of HyperConvergence. I’ll be joined by people who know far more about SimpliVity to talk about their products.

I’m looking forward to my eleven city tour with SimpliVity, particularly starting with Manila and Jakarta in March. I’ve never been to either of these cities and visiting new cities is always interesting. The tour continues with KL and Singapore. Later the tour will cover major cities in Australia and New Zealand from April into May. Book your seat at the presentation here.

For those of you outside the Asia Pacific region there will be tours in the US and Europe. Scott Lowe (not the one who works at NSX) will be speaking in 20 cities in the US. In Europe the language diversity means there will be several community people presenting, Chris Evans will cover the English speaking countries. It’s a shame I won’t get to go to their regions, these guys are worth listening to.

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Workspace Portal – Promote user to administrator

As I deployed Workspace I was a little concerned that the only administrator user ID is the one that you use to bind Workspace to AD. Naturally this is a service account and has a complex password. Remembering the service account password in order to manage the portal is unacceptable. I also couldn’t see anything in the administration guide about how to make another user and administrator. Happily a VMware support engineer showed me the very easy way to promote a user to an administrator of the portal.


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Integrating RSA SecurID with VMware Workspace Portal

When I’m working with any new product I look for bloggers who have used the product in similar ways. What I’m finding with the Workspace portal is that there is almost nothing out there. I will try to document a few of the things I have done and found so others can have some confidence that things work.


Today’s job was getting Workspace to use two factor authentication for user’s connecting over the Internet while accepting username and password for users on the internal network. To proof it out I built the solution using my lab. For authentication Workspace supports AD password, Kerberos and SecurID. At this stage (version 2.1) there is no RADIUS support although I imagine it is on the to-do list.

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Interesting VMware View behaviour

I’m working on a project where we are integrating VMware View, the Workspace Portal and AirWatch for a very interesting mobility storey.

For this deployment a device managed by AirWatch is considered to be a trusted device. The AirWatch browser is set to use the Workspace Portal as it’s home page. Workspace then provides access to internal web sites and View applications.



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Wrapping up some workshops

This week I am at home in Tauranga, a little rest between my September trip to US VMUGs and my October trip to VeeamOn and VMworld EMEA.

I spent the first three days of the week running vSphere and SRM workshops for a local IT organization. The workshops are a lot of fun as I can cover any ground that the group wants. This week the group was drawn from some long time users of VMware products. No  need to cover deploying from templates or what snapshots are. We spent a fair amount of time looking at storage design and network configuration. We also looked at NUMA architecture in modern servers and how that impacts VM configuration.

The SRM part was interesting, it seems to have been deployed a bit but often not maintained. At one point VMs were protected but when vCentre was upgraded SRM was dropped because the guy who understood SRM had left.  To me this points to a need for education, which I’m happy to fill. But also a lack of management commitment to SRM as a DR product.

A really nice thing is that the workshop was so popular that I’ll be running it again in Tauranga when I get back from Barcelona.

If you have a virtualization team and would like to help them improve their skills I can come to you and run workshops. Take a look at my Workshop page and email me to book in a date.

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DR to the cloud with Zerto

I wrote an article a while ago for TechTarget about DR to the cloud, outlining a somewhat cumbersome way to use vSphere replication. Since then I have had a chance to talk with Zerto a couple of times about their DR as a Service (DRaaS) offering.

zerto-red-on-white-logo (2)

You may remember Zerto’s products offering replication and DR run book automation for on-premises DR. Zerto have another product that is sold to cloud service providers which enables the provider to offer DRaaS. The DRaaS is deployed to a large number (150+) of cloud service providers and in use by hundreds of customers. As you would expect the DRaaS product uses incremental replication of VM data and automates the run book for failover. The nice part is that the customer doesn’t need to rent capacity to run the VMs when they are not failed over. The main on-going resources are replication bandwidth and storage capacity for the replicated VM images.

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This week, Chicago

I’m having a great week in Chicago. It is a long haul from New Zealand but as with all travel it is eventually over. I am here for the VMUG User Conference which was  on Wednesday. The 850 people who came along had lots of learning and networking opportunities. I got to meet a whole bunch of new people and catch up with a lot of old friends. There are links to the huge amount of video that the vBrownBag crew made in this post on ProfessionalVMware.

Yesterday and today I am spending in downtown Chicago doing a training workshop at a law firm, they have a small team looking after their vSphere and View environment. I’m helping them to understand the parts that make up their environment and ways to get the best out of what they have. I didn’t realise they are a View site until I arrived, so being able to change the workshop content to match the client is really useful. These small group workshops are a lot of fun and allow us to really drill into the things that are important to this team. Big thanks to Chris Wahl who recommended me in here. If you would like me to run one of these workshops take a look at my workshops page and get in touch.

You may recall that the Blues Brothers movie takes place in Chicago and that the epic chase scene ends up in the square outside the Cook County City Hall. That square is right behind the building where I’m doing the workshop. That is one of my Chicago tourist places to visit ticked. Just one block away I got the classic view of the road running under the ”L” where some of the chase occurred.

I think I’m unduly excited about this because usually when I travel for conferences all I see is hotels and conference centres. Tomorrow I get to be a real tourist for a day before I leave Chicago early Sunday.

This week Chicago, next week Los Angeles for the VMUG user conference there.

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