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SSO Admin password reset with ssopass – SslHandshakeFailed – vSphere 5.1

Posted by Sam McGeown

vmware logoToday I found out that in vSphere 5.1 the SSO administrator account (admin@system-domain) has a password that expires after 365 days. See KB2035864:

vCenter Single Sign-On account (SSO) passwords expire after 365 days, including the password for admin@system-domain.


In vSphere 5.5 it gets even better – the password expires every 90 days by default! (See the vSphere 5.5 SSO documentation)

By default, vCenter Single Sign-On passwords, including the password for [email protected], expire after 90 days.

Following KB2034608 to reset the admin@system-domain I came across an interesting error:



vSphere Security: Advanced SSH Configurations

Posted by Sam McGeown

Security-Guard_thumb2_thumb.pngThere are different schools of thought as to whether you should have SSH enabled on your hosts. VMware recommend it is disabled. With SSH disabled there is no possibility of attack, so that’s the “most secure” option. Of course in the real world there’s a balance between “most secure” and “usability” (e.g. the most secure host is powered off and physically isolated from the network, but you can’t run any workloads Winking smile). My preferred route is to have it enabled but locked down.

Note: VMware use the term “ESXi Shell”, most of us would term it “SSH” – the two are used interchangeably in this article although there is a slight difference. You can have the ESXi Shell enabled but SSH disabled – this means you can access the shell via the DCUI. For the sake of this article assume ESXi Shell and SSH are the same.


WMworld Europe 2013 – Day 3 and Recap

Posted by Sam McGeown

vmworld_thumb.pngLast night was the VMworld party which was loads of fun, I took some pictures so I won't write loads! Highlights include watching people fall over on the roller disco, losing to @shogan85 at street fighter (he has some skills showing a misspent youth) and a rather amusing game of spot the difference.

#vcm5477 Cloud Service Automation with NSX and vCloud Automation Center with Cargi Keeling and Phil Fleischer

This was one of the most technically cool sessions I've been in this week, setting how vCAC and NSX come together to deploy multi tiered applications with the networks provisioned on demand, including firewalls and routing. There's no doubt this is a very exciting hook up, I wonder how many network teams will be happy to see it deployed. That's going to be an uphill battle.

#vsvc1005-gd - PowerCLI Group Discussion with Alan Renouf

I was keen to attend this one just to meet Alan - I've done a little bit of work on vCheck over the last few months and I wanted to meet him in person. The session itself was a well structured discussion, with contributions from a lot of attendees and a well orchestrated by a very knowledgeable host in Alan who gauged the technical level of the attendees very well and moved quickly into more advanced discussions. It was really useful to hear how other people are implementing PowerCLI scripts in their environments, and also to hear of some really cool VMware Flings coming out soon - one of which will allow PowerCLI in the vSphere Web Client.

Final thoughts

These final thoughts are really advice for me to remember for next time, but might be helpful for other newbies! If you have some veteran advice, feel free to comment and I'll update the list:

  • Don't over-book your sessions - I found 2 sessions a day was more than enough to digest - the content is meaty and it's going to take processing. They're all available afterwards anyway! If you're doing it right, you'll get just as much out of the networking, which leads me neatly to my next point.
  • Network. I'm not the most outgoing of people and it doesn't come naturally to me, but you have to just introduce yourself to people. I can't emphasize enough how much you will get out of chatting with the really, really smart people who are your peers. If you see a big name, go say "hi!" - I've not met anyone yet who isn't a really friendly, nice guy.
  • Wear comfortable shoes - you'll be walking and standing a lot! I wore my New Balance Minimus barefoot running shoes and was really comfortable - you don't want shoes that are going to be too warm either.
  • Drink loads of water - not just coffee, or coke, or any other fizzy drink they provide - drink the water too. There are several reasons for this, you will be talking a lot and the whole center is air conditioned - this dehydrates you. I found after day 1 I was losing my voice - if this happens avoid caffeine and very cold water (stick some in your bag to warm it up!)
  • If you don't *need* it, leave it at the hotel. You're carrying your bag all day, and it's going to be heavy!
  • Have a go at the hands on labs, but remember that they're all available after VMworld and you could well find something more productive to do.
  • Consider taking an exam - especially if there's a 75% discount as there was this year. There were also the VCA exams introduced as a pre-cursor to VCPs. I found being immersed in the VMworld environment was actually condusive to good recall as you're immersed in it. Just don't party the night before.
  • Relax at the parties - but don't drink too much! I know, I sound like your mum - but if you're hanging the next day, you're not going to get much out of it!
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VMworld Europe 2013 – Day 2, VCAP5-DCD Exam Experience

Posted by Sam McGeown

VMworld 2013 - Watch The KeynotesToday was always going to be a bit of a funny day as I scheduled the VCAP5-DCD exam for 10am this morning. I am happy to say that I passed! I’m a bit light on VMworld to report today, so forgive my DCD experience to pad it out!


I have to confess my prep for this exam was light – I literally only watched the TrainSignal course by Scott Lowe (@scott_lowe) and just about finished that last night in the hotel! I don’t spend much time focussing on design during my day job, so I approached this exam as a bit of a learning experience rather than a serious bid to pass. I decided to book the exam here at VMworld just because you can get 75% off – if you’re funding yourself it’s not a discount to be dismissed easily!

Taking the exam

As with the DCA exam the DCD is a gruelling 4 hours, with 100 questions of which normally around 6 are Visio style designs. Again, same as the DCA, time management is massively important – I was actually so concerned with the time after running out in the DCA that I went probably too quickly and finished with 45 minutes to spare.

It’s also a very wordy exam – you have to read a lot of text and pull out the relevant info. On the one hand you need to read it very carefully to ensure you pick up the right requirements etc, and on the other you really need to read as fast as possible to keep on track time-wise. The technique I used was to find out what they were asking me for first, and then scan back through the text for the relevant information.

The Visio style questions are a bit clunky, and I’d definitely recommend using the demo of the interface that VMware provide to make sure you’re familiar with how it works – you don’t want to do a “Gregg” (ahem @GreggRobertson5, I am looking at you) and delete your whole diagram by accident.


There are absolutely loads of exam experiences out there to read up on – just Google “VCAP5-DCD exam experience” (though, probably, that’s how you ended up here). I used

TrainSignal (now PluralSight) – I am really lucky to have access to TrainSignal’s library via the vExpert program, but it’s such a good resource I’d definitely pay for it if I didn’t. The course I used was Designing VMware Infrastructure.

I have also read Scott Lowe’s Mastering VMware vSphere 5 which is a fantastic book, even if you’re not going to do the exam. If you plan on buying it you could always use the links in my booklist page ;)

The rest of the day

After the exam I was pretty wrung out and needed a bit of time to recover – I’m still feeling the effects of the concentration now 3 hours later.

Hands On Labs

I spent some time doing hands on labs (HOL) this afternoon, specifically doing the vCAC v6 labs. I’ve been involved with the beta for “project nee” which is what the HOL were based on. The HOL infrastructure is huge here, with a full suite of desktops and a BYOD version. It’s pretty slick – at the time of writing there are over 28,000 VMs created in over 3,100 labs.

Solutions Exchange

I braved the Solutions Exchange again after yesterdays car crash of a visit, determined this time that I would not let my badge get scanned by any pushy sales person. It was more tolerable this time, I got to the stands I was aiming for and was relatively un-harrassed.

I was happy to hand over my info to PernixData for a copy of the vSphere Design Pocketbook, especially as it’s got a contribution from DefinIT’s Simon Eady in it!

2013-10-16 16.28.03 2013-10-16 16.27.35


It’s impossible to explain how good it is to be able to talk to so many really awesome people who I am honoured to call peers – It’s great to chat with people who have similar goals and find out how and why they’re doing the things they are. For me that’s been one of the best parts of VMworld and I have learned at least as much through conversations with people as I have from the sessions.

Tonight is the VMworld Party, I am torn between going to that, and going to bed! Whatever I decide, tomorrow is a new day and I will be aiming to go to a few more sessions as well as keep on with the networking.


VMworld Europe 2013 – Day 1

Posted by Sam McGeown

VMworld 2013 - Watch The KeynotesI flew from Gatwick to Barcelona last night to my very first VMworld!

I'm staying in a hotel that is actually quite far from the conference, it's a metro, train and bus journey away from the conference center and it takes about 40 minutes to get here. On the plus side I was only 5 minutes away from the VMUG party last night so I went over there for an hour or so. Note for future years - stay a little closer to the conference!

General Session

The keynote session was a very slick presentation (think lasers and smoke) from VMware's CEO Pat Gelslinger with various guests laying out VMware's vision for the future of the Software Designed DataCenter (SDDC). You can watch the general session here, if you're interested.

Bloggers zone

If I was to pick one word to describe how I feel after a couple of hours at my very first VMworld, it would have to be "overwhelmed". This place is massive and there are 8500 people here. I definitely felt a bit lost and isolated, but fortunately I found some familiar faces in the the Bloggers area. Great chats with @dawoo, @greggrobertson5, @vmfcraig, @egrigson and @gurusimran. Massive relief to finally find some people I know (at least from Twitter and LonVMUG). It was good to have some discussions around VCAP exams and also the VCDX process - it's all very topical and relevant for me as I look towards taking the DCD and moving on to the VCDX process.

#net5716 - Advanced VMware NSX Architecture with Bruce Davie

NSX is an area I am very interested in learning about, and this session provided an overview of NSX and how it's designed for scalability, how the nuts and bolts of that works (e.g. distributed services) and also how it interacts with physical VTEPs. I found the presenter engaging and the content was really good. The session was absolutely packed and there was plenty of interaction.

#vsvc4811 - Extreme Performance Series: Monster Virtual Machines with Peter Boone and Seongbeom Kim

This session kicked off with a good overview of various memory and processor management techniques. Overall I found this session quite dry with a lot of info and detail, but there's not much to spice it up. Very good understanding of NUMA/vNUMA and how they affect performance of huge 64 vCPU machines - and also some good info regarding the vSocket/vCore discussion I had with @vmfcraig and @simoneady earlier this year.

Solutions Exchange

I spent some time wandering round the Solutions Exchange, which had some very in-your-face methods of attracting your attention and trying to get your badge scanned. It struck me a pretty shoddy to still be using pretty young girls to attract the primarily male geeks to a stand, but it's effective - it's much harder to be rude to one!  I attempted to sit in on a couple of talks with vendors but found the hall too noisy to hear properly, with vendors seeming to compete with each other with loud and over-enthusiastic pitches! There's a huge range of technology and solutions on offer,  if you can get past the sales patter.

#vBrownbag Unsupported with William Lam

It was great to listen to @lamw doing his unsupported session with some really useful tips on how to evaluate vSphere 5.5. He demoed vmtools for nested ESXi which is awesome, as well as some vCenter Simulator features in the VCSA. Definitely some things to try out in the DefinIT lab, the session should be available on the #vBrownbag feed soon.


Tonight is the vExpert reception which should be a great networking opportunity so I'm looking forward to that. I am hoping to get a relatively early night as today has been packed and tomorrow promises to be just as, if not more gruelling. Promise I'll try and get some pictures taken tomorrow!

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