My VMUG – Melbourne VMUG UserConn

Recently I attended the local Melbourne VMUG UserConn. This is a once a year, full-day event hosted by the local VMUG group and boy do they put on a show. I didn’t have the opportunity to attend last year but thankfully I had to chance to attend for a second time this year. The agenda was packed full of both great global and local leaders from the IT community and as with all great events you can’t see everything so there’s a few sessions which I had to miss out on as it clashed with something else. MVMUG has however uploaded many of the sessions to Youtube. Craig Waters (@cswaters1) has created a Youtube playlist so you can catch up whenever you have some free time.

Before the event I was really looking forward to hearing the keynote speakers and having a chat to the guys at the PernixData stand. I had my day planned out on the VMUG iPhone app which was an excellent way to track my time for the day and it also provided a method to give feedback on the sessions. If you’re going to a VMUG I’d definitely recommend using the app. The speakers for the Keynote sessions included John Troyer (@jtroyer), Chad Sakac (@sakacc) and Vaughan Stewart (@vstewed). These guys are heavyweights in the IT-influencer arena and if you’re on twitter definitely give them a follow.

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How To: VMware vCenter Orchestrator 5.5 Installation

I’ve started to play around with the idea of Orchestration and Automation a bit more in the past few weeks. The recent Melbourne VMUG rekindled my interest in the area once again so I’m trying to find the time to play around with a few different applications and see what fits. One of the most versatile and capable products out there for VMware orchestration is VMware vCenter Orchestrator (now called vRealize Orchestrator) and the fact that it’s free with your vCenter server license means there’s really little to no excuse for not learning the product and adding another skill to your virtualization armour.

 

DEPLOYMENT:

Step 1:

You can download vCenter Orchestrator appliance from the myVMware website. You’ll need a VMware login to get access to download. Make sure to download the OVA file as it just makes deployment easier. Once you have have downloaded the OVA, you can then deploy the template.

vco_deploy2

Browse to your downloaded OVA file and once selected click Next.

vco_deploy1

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How To: Cisco UCS Firmware Upgrade

Edit: 22-Jan-2106

A recent comment highlighted that i was missing a step during Step 8: UPGRADE THE FABRIC INTERCONNECTS AND I/O MODULES. This was to manually change the primary status for the Fabric Interconnects to be the recently upgraded Fabric Interconnect. This way your environment remains accessible while the second FI is being upgraded. I’ve updated this step now to include the manual failover steps on the FI. It is a step I always follow when performing upgrades but I can’t think of why I didn’t originally put it into the post.

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Recently I was tasked with performing an upgrade to our UCS environment to support some new B200 M4 blades. The current firmware version only supported the B200 M3 blades. As part of the process I performed the below steps to complete the upgrade. I split the upgrade into a planning phase and an implementation/upgrade phase. Upgrading firmware of any system can lead to potential outages, things have definitely improved on this over the past decade, but it’s imperative that you plan correctly to make the implementation process go without any hitches. With UCS firmware there is a specific order to follow during the upgrade process. The order to follow is:

  1. Upgrade UCS Manager
  2. Upgrade Fabric Interconnect B (subordinate) & Fabric B I/O modules
  3. Upgrade Fabric Interconnect A (primary) & Fabric A I/O modules
  4. Upgrade Blade firmware by placing each ESXi Host

During the upgrade process, and particularly during the Fabric Interconnect and I/O module upgrades you will see a swarm of alerts coming from UCSM. This is expected as some of the links will be unavailable as part of the upgrade process so wait until all the steps have been completed before raising an issue with support. As a caveat however, if there is anything that really stands out as not being right open a call with support and get it fixed before proceeding to the next step. During my upgrade process some of the blades showed critical alerts that did not clear and the blades needed to be decommissioned and re-acknowledged to resolve it. This problem stood out and wasn’t hard to recognise that it was more serious that the other alerts.

PLANNING PHASE:

You will need to check the release requirements from Cisco regarding the upgrade path from your current firmware version to the desired version and also the capabilities that the desired firmware version contains. The upgrade process takes some time so it’s best to review everything in advance and not have to do this on the day of the upgrade itself. For instance during this upgrade process I needed to ensure capability to support B200 M4 blades and VIC 1340 modules as they had been purchased as part of an order for a new project. The steps to carry out in the planning phase are:

Step 1: Verify the Upgrade requirements

Check the release version notes on Cisco’s website for the version you want to upgrade to. For this example we are upgrading to version 2.2

http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/td/docs/unified_computing/ucs/release/notes/ucs_2_2_rn.html

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Fix: Cisco UCSM – Default Keyring’s certificate is invalid

Recently during some prep work for a UCS firmware upgrade I noticed that there was a major alert showing for keyring certificate being invalid. At first I was a bit concerned but since it didn’t affect my login to UCS Manager I assumed it wasn’t too serious. After a bit of searching around the internet I found from Cisco’s site the CLI Configuration Guide for UCS (page 6) which shows the quick and easy fix to the problem.

planning-fault check major

Open an SSH session to the IP address/hostname of UCS Manager. It will connect to the primary Fabric Interconnect. Enter the commands in the order of steps below:

Step 1 UCS-A# scope security

Step 2 UCS-A /security # scope keyring default

Step 3 UCS-A /security/keyring # set regenerate yes

Step 4 UCS-A /security/keyring # commit-buffer

After the commit-buffer command has been issues all GUI sessions will be disconnected and you will need to log in again. When you log in next time you’ll be prompted to accept the new certificate. Once accepted UCSM will open and the alert will now be gone.

All fairly quick and painless!

How-To: VMware vRealize Log Insight Installation

As part of some recent evaluation work I did on vRealize Operations Manager and following a discussion with our VMware rep I installed vRealize Log Insight. It’s a product I’ve heard about before, largely in conjunction with EVO:RAIL as its part of the automatic deployment, but not a product that I’ve really seen a need for. As part of the vRealize Suite it links nicely into vROps so I thought why not give it a chance and see what it can do. So far I’ve been impressed. I’ve only configured it to monitor my VMware environment but it is also possible to get data from devices outside on the virtual platform. For want of a better example you can see Log Insight as a syslog server or a Splunk Server. There may be other ways of installing vRealize Log Insight Manager but below are the steps I followed to get the platform off the ground and it follows the similar steps to my earlier How-To: VMware vRealize Operations Manager Installation guide

DEPLOYMENT:

Step 1:

Go to VMware vRealize Log Insight  web page and download the vRealize Log Insight  OVA file. You will need a VMware account for this and you will also get a 60-day trial license key. You can also check out the VMware vRealize Log Insight Getting Started Guide and the vRealize Log Insight Administration Guide for more information of what to do within Log Insight. Once you have downloaded the appliance you can go into vCenter and select Deploy from OVF Template.

deploy

Step 2:

Browse to the downloaded OVA file, select and click Open

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Fix: VMware 5.5 Importing VMDK to VM – Failed to open disk scsi0:0

I’m currently assisting on a project for Big Data which requires some VMDKs to be imported and added to existing VMs. I really don’t understand why the vendor doesn’t supply an appliance to import rather than having to build out multiple nodes from a VMDK file. The only redeeming factor among all this is that it’s only a proof of concept but my concerns have been raised about a proper production deployment. A request was made to add the VMDK supplied to 4 existing VMs which were essentially just shells waiting for disk to be assigned/attached. I copied the VMDK into the folder of one of the VMs, attached the disk to the VM and when I went to power it on I got the following error:

Failed to open disk scsi0:0: Unsupported or invalid disk type 7. Ensure the disk has been imported

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The VMDK was obviously from a different version of vSphere and required the disk to be re-imported and also configured to zeroedthick. The steps followed to resolve this issue were:

  1. Enable SSH access to ESXi host via the Security Profile under Configuration.
  2. Open a putty SSH session to the ESXi host
  3. Change directory to the folder of the VM: cd /vmfs/volumes/<datastore>/<VM_folder>
  4. Run the vmkfstools utility to clone the VMDK as zeroedthick: vmkfstools -i imported_disk.vmdk -d zeroedthick new_clone.vmdk
  5. Go to the datastore the VM resides on in vSphere and right-click the imported_disk.VMDK and select Delete from Disk
  6. Edit the settings of the VM and connect the new_clone.VMDK
  7. Power on the VM and the error is now gone
  8. Close the putty session and disable SSH access to ESXi host

			

Podcast review – Cisco Champion Radio

Cisco Champions Radio is a spin-off from Cisco community recognition program that get members from the community and SME’s together to discuss Cisco related products/releases, tools and educational services. It covers the entire gamut of Cisco products from its core routing and switching to the data center to unified communications. The technology and product podcasts are interspersed with community related information. One of particular note that was very interesting was S2 E7 – Creating videos & podcasts as IT professionals. This podcast has a number of Cisco community members that either run, edit or produce their own podcasts or video content and go into a discussion around the best tools for the job. The main comment from everyone involved was for others to just make content, get out there and begin to make content. Yes it may not be super quality at the beginning but you will improve over time. The other primary comment from everyone was to make sure that you get good audio. Even for video content the visuals can be jumpy or glitchy but if the audio drops out so will your listeners/viewers.

And that leads me to my one complaint about Cisco Champion Radio. The audio. The discussion is carried out over Talkshoe and it just sounds really tinny. There are times where it sounds a bit fuller but generally it’s tinny. I know that the producers are looking at other options and it was even part of the episode 7 discussion so hopefully in the future another platform can be utilised. It’s not the first community podcast I’ve heard run across Talkshoe which has had a similar audio quality. The APAC Virtualization podcast also suffered a similar fate. Which just goes to show how compelling the content for both podcasts is if you can sit through tinny audio.

So what are Cisco Champions? Cisco Champions are the equivalent to VMware vExperts. They are community members that discuss, review, promote and critique Cisco’s product range. I think their own description is far better at explaining it than i can:

Cisco Champions are a network of people who are passionate about Cisco and enjoy sharing their knowledge, expertise, and thoughts across the social web and with Cisco. The Cisco Champions program encompasses different areas of interest and geographical areas within the company, providing a variety of opportunities for Champions to participate in the program. To learn more about the Cisco Champions program go to https://communities.cisco.com/groups/cisco-champions

The format of the podcast is a questions and answers style podcast with one leader from the Cisco Champions program that mediates the conversation and keeps things moving. There are usually 2 or 3 guests on the show, one being an SME from Cisco in a particular product/area and the others being Cisco Champions that work for other vendors or service providers. The content of the episodes range from deep technical to high-level overviews. All the guests are really clued in and have a deep understanding on the subject being discussed and provide some real food for thought. I’d recommend listening to S2 Episode 4 about VIRL for a prime example of this. It was a really in-depth discussion and really made me want to go and get my hands on VIRL. I was thinking about it before but now it’s definitely on the cards. One of the advantages of Cisco Champion Radio is that it’s not a closed podcast, it’s possible for people to join in live and listen into the discussion and ask questions to the guest. This expands the scope to the podcast to really engage with the community in real-time. Most other podcasts can only do that after the podcast has been produced. If you want to attend any of the Cisco Champion Radio episodes live you can access the details on how to attend from https://communities.cisco.com/docs/DOC-56977. This is the advantage the Talkshoe does provide over some other platforms. I’m fairly new to Cisco equipment, especially considering other engineers out there, so pretty much all the content is of interest to me as I try to expand my knowledge beyond just data center technologies and into the networking sphere. Thankfully every possible product/solution is covered on Cisco Champion Radio so I’m sure if something hasn’t come up before now it won’t be long before it is covered by the team.

If you want to access any of the back-catalog of Cisco Champion Radio episodes head on over to https://communities.cisco.com/docs/DOC-51556 and select a link or just add Cisco Champion Radio to your iTunes podcast list. I’d highly recommend it.

 

 

How-To: VMware vRealize Operations Manager Installation

I’ve recently being playing around with the vRealize Suite as part of on-going evaluations into various management tools. Today I’m going to cover the installation process for vRealize Operations Manager. There have been a number of improvements in the latest version of Operations Manager. It was not just a name change from vCOPS to vROps as part of the latest release, there have been a number of great features added and I think VMware have finally put the effort into making their management suite of products work cohesively. I’m not going to go into the ream of features and updates to vRealize Operations Manager as others have done a far better job at that than I can but I can provide a step by step installation guide.

DEPLOYMENT

Step 1:

Go to VMware vRealize site and download a trial version of vROps. You will require a VMware account to do this and agree to any licensing. You can download the OVA file for vROps to your local computer. Once you have downloaded the appliance you can go into vCenter and select Deploy from OVF Template

deploy

Step 2:

Select the OVA file just downloaded and click Next

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Blog name change

Over the past few months, and despite my infrequency with posts, the blog has grown in traffic and general interest. Originally the title of the blog referenced my Irish background and cloud technology. However, the name was very hard for most people that have never learned Irish to pronounce. Also, I feel that just talking about cloud technologies is not solely what I want to cover via this blog. I want to expand it to cover data center technology which is the foundation of cloud technology as well. Hopefully the blog will continue to organically grow and I have a number of posts in the pipeline which should assist with that. To those that have taken the time to read anything on this blog I say thank you.