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20Oct/14Off

vCAC 6.1 – Creating a user selectable network dropdown that sets Network and Network Profile correctly

Posted by Sam McGeown

I am aware that that's not a catchy blog post title. In fact, it doesn't even really describe the problem or solution very well - for that I need to go into a little bit more depth!

Suppose I have configured a Reservation with two Networks ticked ("192.168.1.0-VLAN1" and "192.168.10.0-VLAN10"). As you can see in the screenshot below, each of the networks has a Network Profile created and assigned with a network pool to provide IP addressing for the VMs.

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When I deploy the Blueprint without any custom properties, the network selection is round-robin and so the VM gets it's virtual NIC assigned to "192.168.1.0-VLAN1" or "192.168.10.0-VLAN10" alternately - this is the expected behaviour. The Virtual Machines are assigned an IP address based on the Network Profile of the assigned network.

All good so far. Still with me?

20Oct/14Off

VMworld 2014: Day Three and wrap-up

Posted by Sam McGeown

Posts in this series
  1. VMWorld 2014: Day One
  2. VMworld 2014: VCP NV Exam Experience
  3. VMworld 2014: Day Two
  4. VMworld 2014: Day Three and wrap-up

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*This post was meant to be published on Friday, VMworld Sleep Deprivation meant I didn't click the button!*

This is the last post and a bit of a wrap up on my VMworld 2014 series!

There isn't a keynote on day three, and there's definitely a "winding down" feel as people tend to arrive later (if at all) and many are…feeling the effects of the previous night shall we say! That said, every session I wanted to attend was still fully booked and it was a case of queuing for the spare seats.

I managed to get into the #SDDC1337 Techincal Deep Dive on EVO:RAIL really to get a good view on what the EVO:RAIL offering is. The session was presented very well and told the story of EVO:RAIL from inception to birth. There was a lot of information about the technologies involved in getting EVO:RAIL to a fully functional product. I was impressed with the 8 month timescale and the team's focus on doing the core things right rather than feature creep which VMware can be guilty of.

I think the fact that the hardware is partner based means that it's much more accessible for environments that are single-vendor (e.g. HP, EMC, DELL, HDS or Fujitsu shops) because they can purchase under existing agreements etc without needing to get new suppliers approved, and there's already familiarity and eco-systems in place.

With VSAN still really a tier-2 storage solution, I'd expect these to go into remote office environments for large enterprises. I haven't seen the pricing for EVO:RAIL, but I suspect all that packaged goodness will have a price - probably not one SMB's will like. An interesting idea discussed with Michael Poore (@michaelpoore) was the idea of having EVO:RAIL clusters as vCloud endpoints.

That was the last technical session I was able to attend as I had to catch my flight home! It's hard to summarise in a blog posting the value that you get from attending VMworld - as a vExpert I have access to a lot of VMworld sessions online after the event, but VMworld is a lot more than just the sessions. It's a crazy mix of sessions, networking, meeting old and new friends, vendor parties, sleep deprivation, walking (lots of walking), exams, the solutions exchange and generally being immersed in all things VMware for the duration of the conference.

I would definitely encourage anyone who can get to VMworld and who loves the technology and community around VMware to go next year. It's much more than the sum of it's parts!

Filed under: VMware, VMworld, VSAN Comments Off
16Oct/14Off

VMworld 2014: Day Two

Posted by Sam McGeown

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Day two of VMworld kicked off with a keynote session which traditionally includes demos of all that's new. It was a well presented session with a glimpse into the sysadmin's future with a demo of vCOps alerts popping up on Google glass. Since the sessions are available online I won't go into detail, but it was worth a watch (if you didn't watch the US one).

My morning consisted of preparations for the VCP NV (NSX) exam, which I detailed in a previous post. Very pleased to have passed what is a difficult exam.

As ever the networking aspect of VMworld continues to be the most valuable, meeting and chatting with some really clever guys. It always impresses me how many people are happy to give their time and expertise for the community.

One of my favourite things this year is the Destination Give Back initiative where VMware challenge you to make and throw a paper aeroplane, the further it flies the larger the donation to charity. You even choose which category the donation goes to, children, education, environment, human rights or women and girls. Over 140,000 Euros has already been pledged, with the majority going to children. It's interesting to see the choices donations, children get by far the most, with environment and human rights getting the least. One thing some people have said was why not just donate the money. My answer is that a huge part of charity fundraising is about
awareness and getting people to think about where the money is going is a huge benefit.

In the afternoon I attended my only technical session of the day, #NET1974 Multi Site Data Center Solutions with VMware NSX. This was a great session with some really practical information on designing NSX for multi site deployments. I found the comparison between how you deploy for Enterprise (typically low latency/high bandwidth intersite connections) and Cloud (typically high latency/low bandwidth) really useful, as well as strategies for using vSphere Metro Stretched Cluster for low latency sites with stretched L2 networks, Enhanced vMotion for low latency sites with multiple clusters, and NSX's Layer 2 VPN for sites with higher latency. There was also a massively useful section on DR for NSX using SRM.

In the evening was the VMworld party, featuring Simple Minds. Unfortunately I think VMware shot themselves in the foot having made a big deal of how they are promoting women in IT, but had some fairly provocative shadow dancers around the hall. Clearly not a joined up message, as I mentioned on twitter, you can either value women or objective them, but not both.

Filed under: VMware, VMworld Comments Off
15Oct/14Off

VMworld 2014: VCP NV Exam Experience

Posted by Sam McGeown

Posts in this series
  1. VMWorld 2014: Day One
  2. VMworld 2014: VCP NV Exam Experience
  3. VMworld 2014: Day Two
  4. VMworld 2014: Day Three and wrap-up

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It is with great relief that I can announce I have passed my VCP NV (Network Virtualisation) having been caught out by the difficulty of the exam and failing previously.

Exam Preparation

I was fortunate to attend a VMware internal bootcamp (roughly equivalent to the ICM course) for NSX and have had experience deploying production NSX environments, so that is by far the best preparation. As always, the exam blueprint is crucial, you *have* to know all areas covered there. I've also been reading the documentation and design and deploy guides published by VMware, and completed the basic and advanced hands on labs that are also freely available. On top of that there is the official practice exam which I strongly suggest you do as it reflects the real exam well, and there are a series of fantastic practice tests by Paul McSharry available while provide a decent test of knowledge.

Exam Experience

It's a typical VMware VCP level exam consisting of 120 multiple choice questions with 120 minutes to answer them. That's 1m per question, it may not sound a lot but there are plenty of questions you will answer in seconds. I completed the exam in about 1h25m. Other than that there's not a huge amount to say about the exam itself due to NDAs!

Advice for takers

Study the blueprint, it really does cover everything you need!
It seems obvious, but know the packet walks and understand how encapsulation changes packets
Have a clear and precise understanding of the components and architecture, and what the use cases are
If you have access to the binaries, install, break, fix, remove, repeat! If not, HOL, you don't have to follow the guides, you can do your own thing.

Next steps

My score wasn't great (a pass is a pass right?) so I'm keen to go back over some weaker areas to start with. I am definitely going to look at recertifying my expired CCNA, as this is really good knowledge to take into any NSX engagement. With the VCIX exam recently released, I'll look towards that also. Finally, lots of lab work with vCAC 6.1 and NSX to really maximise its potential. NSX shines when you see it automated.

15Oct/14Off

VMWorld 2014: Day One

Posted by Sam McGeown

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After a bit of a rocky start (missed my flight and the partner day due to tendonitis in my knee) I arrived in Barcelona for my 2nd VMworld Europe. I headed straight from the airport to the PernixData party and caught up with the rest of the Xtravirt guys.

Tuesday morning started as ever with a keynote address. It was a little disappointing, but not unexpected, that there were no real announcements or reveals in the keynote. It was essentially a repeat of the VMworld US keynote with a couple of new betas announced. Nothing really revolutionary, a new vCloud Air datacenter in Germany and some new partners for EVO:RAIL. It's interesting to see that the pace of traction for both cloud and hyperconverged is increasing for VMware's portfolio though.

My first session of the day was #MTG1969, vCloud Automation Center and NSX Integration Technical Deep Dive. This was a great session covering the integration of NSX and vCAC, two areas close to my heart :) Combining the two allows for repeatable on demand application delivery, from simple one tier to multi tier multiple blueprint applications. NSX really comes alive and shines when paired with automation. I was particularly pleased to see the vCenter Orchestrator plugin for NSX is fully featured in 6.1 and some significant improvements have been made.

After  a quick lunch and some time in the hang space and solutions exchange I went to my second session of the day, #NET1743, VMware NSX Technical Deep Dive. I have been fortunate enough to have been on the VMware internal NSX training and actually done some real world deployments, so I have had a lot of exposure to NSX. Unfortunately this meant there was no new content for me, but the session was presented well and was well received.

To cap off a day of NSX focus, I also spent some time working through HOLSDC1425, VMware NSX Advanced. This is a great way to get some hands on experience with advanced NSX services (over and above the standard routing, switching and firewall functionality available in the basic NSX HOL). Subjects included DHCP relay, scale out L3 connectivity including configuring OSPF and ECMP (very cool!) and Layer 2 VPN. There are also some examples of 3rd party integration with Symantec and Riverbed.

In the evening we headed over to the solutions exchange for the drinks reception, then on to the vExpert/VCDX reception, and finally the vJamon event. By far my favourite was the vJamon event, which was hosted in a great venue with live music and good food, and overall a really good event sponsored by Cisco and Intel. These events are a fantastic opportunity to network with peers and meet up with colleagues and are one of the most valuable features of VMworld for me.

All in, a great first day, even on crutches! Looking forward to more tomorrow.

Filed under: VMware, VMworld Comments Off
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