London VMUG meeting Thursday 6th April

I’ve not been posting for a while and suddenly realised that I had let the next meeting of the London VMUG creep up on me, so the news is the meeting is tomorrow on Thursday April the 6th.

The event is at TechUK, the new home of the London VMUG at 10 St Bride Street, London, EC4A 4AD (just off Fleet Street) and is running from 10am to 5.15pm.

If you’re interested in all things VMware then come along and meet some of the nicest people in the VMware community, we don’t bite and everyone is welcome.

So what’s on you ask, well here is the agenda so you can pick the sessions you want to attend.

apr17agenda

This event is sponsored by Bitdefender, Morpheus and Runcast so a big thank you to them as without sponsors this event couldn’t happen.

bitdefendermorpheusrunecast

 

 

 

So come along and see what it’s all about, you can pre-register here or just turn up on the day Hope to see you there.

vExpert 2017 Award Announcement

vmw-logo-vexpert-2017-k

Today is a special day for me, I’ve been awarded vExpert 2017 from VMware and I’m so thrilled to make the list again, this being my second year as a vExpert.

To see the full list of vExperts and find out more about the program see the Announcement here.

I believe that becoming a vExpert is all about the community, and this last year I have tried to really get to know the people out there, and have now made new friends at the London VMUG as well as led the CloudCred team on the charge up the leader board. I’ve set questions for Cloudcred, Attended many events, all the UK London VMUG events, Airwatch and EUC events, VMworld 2016 Europe and the UK VMUG usercon. I used to be shy and intimidated by talking to people at these type of events but by taking the jump to get involved has been so rewarding for me, meeting people, seeing  then present and chatting over food and drink has been inspirational to me.

I’m really looking forward to continuing my journey with both VMware and the London VMUG and seeing where it takes me, only last week I was having vBeers with my good friends Chris Bradshaw and our very own London VMUG leader Dave Simpson

I’ve met a number of great people who have supported me on this journey and hopefully Ive supported them on their journey’s, far too many people to mention here (but I will try) so a big thanks to The London VMUG team, The Open Homelab project The Open Techcast team,  (hope to be a podcasting guest soon guys)

The following people for inspiring me (in no particular order)

A really special mention must go to NoellGrier @CloudCredGeek who as the Cloudcred admin must be really sick of all my emails about bugs, suggesting improvements, problems with tasks and why I can’t complete any tasks at the moment!

vBeers – Guildford, UK (Thursday 2nd February 2017)

Last Thursday I had the pleasure of attending the first “vBeers in the Country” organised by my good friend Chris Bradshaw. I decided I should go and support this inaugural event which was being held in Guildford at The Britannia. So It was completely by accident that I bumped in to our very own London VMUG leader Dave Simpson in the nearby car park trying to work out how much off peak parking costs in Guildford.

A pleasant evening was had by all as this photo shows and we had a good chat and catch up over food and drink.

vbeers

So who knows what happens next, we may go viral or better yet get a sponsor and then you will definitely want to come to the next event if you missed this one. Better still if you know of a great location put yourself down as an organiser. If you think you would come to an event in Winchester then please let me know (add a comment or message me) and if there is interest I will find a venue.

Chris has put a great guide together on how to arrange a vBeers event on his blog at http://isjw.uk/vbeers-trying-out-a-new-gathering/ and for more info on vBeers check out their website.

London VMUG meeting Thursday 19th January

Well the New Year is now well upon us and what better way to start January with the first meeting of the London VMUG Thursday 19th January.vmug

The event is at TechUK, the new home of the London VMUG at 10 St Bride Street, London, EC4A 4AD (just off Fleet Street) and is running from 10am to 5.15pm.

If you’re interested in all things VMware then come along and meet some of the nicest people in the VMware community, we don’t bite and everyone is welcome.

So what’s on you ask, well here is the agenda so you can pick the sessions you want to attend, Personally its great to see the community sessions presented by the members for the community. So I’m looking forward to Amazon AWS for Beginners with Alex Galbraith and Chris Porter  and then Practical PaaS with Ricky El-Qasem 

vmug-19-01-17-agenda

This event is sponsored by Rubrik, iland and StorMagic so a big thank you to them as without sponsors this event couldn’t happen.

So come along and see what it’s all about, you can pre-register here or just turn up on the day Hope to see you there.

UK VMUG Usercon 2016

vmug-usercon

Well in two days’ time it will be the UK VMUG Usercon in Birmingham at the National Motorcycle Museum on Thursday November 17th. This will be my first year to attend the event having only attended the London VMUG up to now. This is a completely free event so if your in to VMware then you should come along and see what’s going on. As someone who has been lucky enough to join the VMware Community I can only say what a privilege it is to attend this kind of event and meet some of the Community Legends that are out there.

So what is there to expect on the day:

Keynote “VMware Strategy Update” by Joe Baguley, VMware VP & CTO EMEA

  • 5 breakout blocks with sessions by the community, VMware and sponsors
  • 15+ community discussion groups, topics led by peers
  • Closing keynote “Demystifying the Future of IT – An IT practitioners guide” by well-respected virtualization blogger Julian Wood (www.wooditwork.com)
  • Meet carefully selected VMware partners to discover innovative and complimentary virtualization solutions
  • vCurry Reception on Wednesday 16 November between 19:00 and 21:00.

I’m going to be there for the vCurry so come over and say hi if your there.

Want to know more, the agenda is available Here

Still interested then there is still time to register Here

My thoughts on the London VMUG Meeting June 2016

Well last week was the 3rd London VMUG meeting of the year and the last in London. I arrived to find it fairly empty due to some train issues. It was also the day of the EU referendum so we won’t forget where we were on that day. Given the train issues on the way home due to some flooding I was glad to of got up early to of gone and voted before traveling.

vmug

 The first session of the day was from the gold sponsor Simplivity.

Simplivity -­ Hyper Convergence with Data Virtualisation – A Double Win -­Stuart Gilks @StuartGilks123 simplivity

Stuart gave us a very quick corporate presentation then took us straight in to the technical heart of the product with a hands on demo. Through the demo Stuart was able to demonstrate how simple the software is to use, through the vCenter Plugin, administration is easy and configuration of policies is simple.

The heart of the product is SimpliVity’s OmniStack software which enables a powerful set of hyperconverged technologies. The OmniStack technology is composed of the Data Virtualization Platform software and the purpose-built Accelerator Card.

The key points are:

  •  Multiple layers of protection
  • VM centric management
  • Data efficiency that improves performance.
  • Accelerated data efficiency.
  • Deduplication and compression at ingest.
  • Performance acceleration and capacity saving.
  • Unified management single pane of glass.
  • Built in data protection (backup and restore)
  • All drives are RAID protected to allow for multiple disk failures.
  • Data protection with RAID and RAIN (Redundant Array of Independent Nodes)
  • On data write’s If the hash matches anywhere them all it does it update metadata therefore making capacity savings on write’s.
  • So therefore when you clone a VM it’s a complete hash match so it consumes no extra disk capacity or IOPS
  • This is the same for backups even on a different site, several GB’s simply becomes a few MB to be replicated to a remote OmniStack.
  • A nice touch was that the software has very simple policy’s to configure and they will estimate the capacity used before you commit a stupid job.
  • if you decide to bring up a VV in a remote site, when you move a VM it will deregister in the active vCenter, The destination site will check its blocks and just transfer the missing blocks so the move will be faster than conventional Vmotions and consume less bandwidth.

 For more information take a look at their web site http://www.simplivity.com/ and watch the short video below:

why simplivity

Stuart mentioned that you can Register for a free hands on test drive, these are typically 3 hours and run around the country and I may well attend a test drive in future.

  •  Get hands on time on a real system with a lab guide.
  • Join an interactive discussion about best practices for deploying hyperconverged and solve common IT problems.
  • Discuss with experts any questions you have.

You can register at simplivity-testdrive.com, The next session is the 12th of July in London.

 Next up was Chris Dearden @ChrisDearden who hosted the debate – Cloud In/Out BREXIT for Your Datacentre.

serverhugger.png

We then had a somewhat humorous look as to what was best place to host your servers either In or Out of the cloud. There was some healthy debate between the two sides covering issues over costs, workloads, applications, backups, speed of deployment and even beards at one point!

beard

Before the vote there was a bit of a wobble from a few people who wanted a hybrid option but this was a simple In or out Vote and the result was a clear victory for the in Datacanter  at 30 server huggers compared to 14 cloudlovers. I hasten to add I was one of the luddites and a server hugger.

vmwarecloud

VMware EUC Update – Howard Bliss (VMware)

Howard took us through the latest changes to the Vmware EUC (End user Computing) product set.

The purpose of which is to deliver an unmatched identity defined contextual experience to the user from Consumer to Enterprise. Delivering a full spectrum of digital workspaces across devices, or to put it simply Any platform any App.

  • Unmanaged (manage the user)
  • Managed Workspace (manage the user and apps)
  • Managed Workspace with Unified Endpoint Management (manage the user, apps and device)

Workspace one has gained elements of Airwatch including MAM (Mobile App Managmeent) containment support. Horizon 7 has a number of new features including:

  • Improvements to just in time delivery (Just in time lets you clone the base image, mount the VMDK simultaneously and then use app volumes to deploy apps)
  • Can deliver 2000 desktops in less than 20 minutes.
  • Supports more than 50000 sessions over 10 sites and 25 pods.
  • App volumes allows you to deliver apps in seconds.
  • Smart policy’s and User Environment Manager (UEM) will allow you to customize the app as the user opens it.
  • Blast extreme is a new protocol to replace PCs over ip and supports h.264 encoding to bring HD experience to end users.
  • There is a new client available as of the 16th of June V4.1

Windows 10 has the blurred the way we use Windows as it now runs on laptops, mobiles and tablets. This has changed the way that us corporates need to think about managing our windows devices it’s no longer about joining the domain and group policies.

windows10 and horizon

To help manage Windows 10 devices horizon has introduced VMware Trust point Powered by a partnership with Tanium and is the Ideal solution to combines policy and control with endpoint security and allows you to:

  • Discover unmanaged end points in seconds with a 15 second detection.
  • So then it can decide whether to push agent or quarantine the device.
  • Natural language query engine – so just ask a question in plain English “what are the computer names of the machines with critical patches missing”
  • Remediate compromised endpoints as needed by:
    • Deploying a patch
    • Killing a process
    • Uninstalling an app
    • Removing a device

lakesidesoftware

Lakeside Software -­ Using SysTrack in a Horizon Environment – Simon Salloway @simonsifi

Simon promised us a slide free demo of end user analytics for Horizon demonstrating how to objectively measure user experience and accurately plan capacity.

You can see more on their web site http://lakesidesoftware.com/ and I would recommend the short the video below.

The Agent is a Scalable lightweight client and looks at what users are doing.

  • Software monitors the time it takes to load software.
  • Is the CPU queue length high.
  • What the Service quality is (the time that users are working without any delays)
  • What the User experience % is.
  • What takes time away from users.
  • Can be used forLicense management and Capacity planning for VMs
  • Can produce reports that are accurate showing real statistics.
  • Application report can show systems and links showing latency for each link which looked very useful for RCA.

Extreme VMware Datacentres Matt Northam, Alex Galbraith and Ed Morgan

Again this was quite a humorous breakout session where 3 people presented to us on a number of situations involving extreme datacenters. Which were above and beyond what we would call normality.

Matt Northam @Twickersmatt

Matts example was one about putting VMware on to ships of the Royal Navy. So obviously apart from any required security clearances he mentioned a few points that I have had some experience of (although not all)

  •  Think about no internet connectivity so have lots of DVD media.
  • How are you going to install any software (DVD or USB)
  • Remote Support, How are you going to perform it.
  • Remote access, Will you have ILO or DRAC type access.
  • Trouble shooting logs, are you able to send logs to a supplier, probably not.
  • Can you use your phone or laptop, do you need to be escorted everywhere.
  • Always take pen and paper.
  • Always have photo ID.

Alex Galbraith @alexgalbraith

Alex’s Example was one of a rural site, something I can relate to living in a small rural Hampshire village where we have limited mobile access (mainly none) and limited broadband although I recently got an increase to around 3.5MB, his Issues included:

  • No internet access, a 1MB DSL circuit for a lot of users. With massive costs to install a dedicated circuit over 6 miles.
  • Rf broadband (line of sight) did increase this although its deterioration was found to be because Trees grow in the country!
  • DR was only on same site, still there was at least some distance between the servers.
  • A shed for office which was dirty with dust and flooded which resulted in the racks being lifted off the floor to prevent future flooding.

Ed Morgan @mo6020

Eds example was more extreme that Matts, with all the same issues but only in a submarine!

For reasons of national security I can’t repeat what Ed told us, (and it wasn’t because I was too busy laughing honestly)

Quote of the session, “How exactly do you rebuild an array when someone has pulled out two of the disks”

vBeers – sponsored by 10ZiG, Nutanix and Pernixdata

vBeers was a bit different this time, we found ourselves at FourPure brewery in Bermondsey @fourpurebrewing apparently some of our sponsors are quite well know there! food was supplied by Le Bao @LeBaoTruck and I must say I enjoyed my first couple of Baos and it was a shame I had to leave for the train. So a big thanks to the sponsors for a great night.

10ziglarge     nutanix     pernixdata

My thoughts on the London VMUG Meeting April 2016

Well back on April the 14th I attended my second London VMUG meeting, I really feel part of the community now and even had a shout out for Cloudcred, so if anyone wants to join the team please get in touch. This blog has taken rather too long to put together and I found myself writing so much it’s more like a novel now. But a blog not posted is a waste of a blog so here is my review of the London VMUG Meeting April 2016.

vmug

The day started with two general sessions for all.

The first session was from the Gold sponsor Veeam, Luca @dellock6 He kicked off the day with a lighthearted session with the subtitle  “A look at what works and what doesn’t work when designing & implementing a data protection solution”

“Veeam Backup and Replication: Worst Practices” -­ Luca Dell’Oca EMEA Evangelist 

veeam

I haven’t used Veeam since my last job but I took away several of Luca’s points some are more obvious that others:

  • Don’t just install Veeam with defaults, next, next, next ,(hey we have all done it!) Create a backup job and never test a restore.
  • Don’t ignore the infrastructure:  you should Use the Veeam monitoring tools before you install Veeam. The VM Config assessment and VM change rate estimation tools.
  • After Installation you should monitor capacity.
  • Luca recommend the Restore point simulator at rps.dewin.me
  • vCenter performance is critical so you should avoid any impacting processes while Veeam is running so do check you SQL maintenance plans for SQL (if you’re running a Windows vCenter) and don’t run them the same time you’re running your backups.
  • Check Windows patching and don’t patch when you’re trying to backup.
  • All VM’s are not equal  so don’t create one job per VM, by a similar point don’t create one huge job as that causes huge backup files, this is also bad practice for de-duplication. This is bad as it can overload vCenter, Increases memory usage on the Veeam server and cause the Veeam database to grow.
  • The Veeam scheduler is not optimised for hundreds of jobs so don’t give it hundreds of jobs.
  • Don’t chain jobs manually, let the automatic scheduler control the load, it knows best, as a hung job will stop the chain so all your subsequent backups will fail.
  • If you use old slow storage with no cache it will perform badly so use reasonable hardware with more ram and large caches.
  • Whilst on poor performance don’t install on a Domain Controller or exchange servers it sounds obvious but if Luca mentioned it, somebody must have done it!
  • Use a dedicated VM for Veeam hell it will even run on Windows 7 / 8 / 10 if you’re worried about a Server license.
  • Don’t change advanced options without fully understanding the implications (again sounds obvious) but some advanced settings can have a negative impact. Don’t change what you don’t understand as the defaults are correct for 99% of installations.
  • Luca informed us that new VM’s cause baby seal deaths now I’ve looked this up on the internet and I think Luca is mistaken 🙂

vmwarecloud

Next up was the Plenary Keynote from  Simon Richardson,@SimonRichards0n VMware lead solution architect on SDDC/VSAN. Simon went through several new features and products including:

VMware vRealize Automation 7

  • Which now includes a unified blueprint that integrates with NSX.

VMware vRealize Operations 6.1 and Log Insight 3.0

  • A number of Improvements in Usability.

VMware vRealize Business Standard 7

  • This is a single pane of glass for costing and pricing across private and public clouds I was particularly interested in the role based showback and reporting so you can show the business how much things really cost even if you don’t really charge them.

VMware Site Recovery Manager 6.1

  • Now includes Integration to NSX (what product form VMware doesn’t now integrate with NSX if only we all had NSX in our estates)
  • Zero downtime application mobility so no more outages even small ones.

VMware vCloud air

  • Now Supporting Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.
  • And with the hybrid cloud manager you can now stretch layer over the wan so you can vMotion.

VMware Integrated Openstack (VIO)

  • So you can now run a production grade openstack on VMware.
  • Free if you are a vSphere enterprise plus customer.

“AppVolumes Beyond the Limits of Physics” – Simon Gallagher

Then it was time for #LonVmug star Simon Gallagher @vinf_net who gave us an overview of AppVolumes although I think a better title would have been “this is not the Business case you’re looking for”

Simon is quite clearly working in a complex and secure environment something I know only too well, and is building a VDI environment for several thousand users. As someone who uses Horizon 6 and thinapps I was quite interested in his use of app volumes, app stacks and Writable Volumes.

App stacks

  • Appstack is an extra VMDK and filter driver.
  • Up to 15 stacks per VM.
  • The more stacks, the more redirections so the slower it gets.
  • The last stack wins so beware version conflicts.
  • Managing file versions in Appstack can be an issue so Simon recommends using a 3rd party tool like Xvolumes.
  • Middleware is a great use case, i.e. Java as Appstack is part of the native OS it’s easier to work with App V packages, as someone who regularly Thinapp’s Java apps with a specific version of Java I can see this use case being very useful.
  • Grouping / clustering of applications can be useful to create “packs” a useful tip from Simon is to create a debug pack containing all the support tools that you might need to investigate any issues such as Wireshark. Another quote of the day here “Debugging the rabbit hole of redirection” and here I have been there and got the T-shirt as well.

Design challenges / Issues

  •  AppVolumes can replicate AppStacks but not writable Volumes.
  • AppVolumes only supports a single Active Directory server so for production requires a IP load balancer.
  • No understanding of AD sites (really no AD support it is 2016 isn’t it)
  • Don’t backup app volume data treat it like a PC and if the data is lost you rebuild it.
  • Check out postman a tool to repeat app configuration based on a master copy.
  • Watch out for what happens when users change, ie logon location, (in my case even changing OU can cause some issues)
  • Make sure Everything Is in sync.
  • Make sure all domain controllers are working.
  • If you offer a writable persistence volume everyone wants it (again as someone who offers a persistent / non persistent environment I know which one I prefer J)
  • No Role-based access control (RBAC) for Admins.
  • You can get a blue screen of death (BSOD) with McAfee filter driver.
  • It’s a complex environment and it can be very easy to confuse Level 1 / 2 staff without training.

“Eliminate the Guesswork with ‘Analytics Driven Storage’” -­ James Smith 

pernixdata

After lunch we had a choice to either see Nimble Storage or PernixData so I opted to see the presentation from James Smith, @james55smith Systems Engineer,  PernixData. Having been to the vendor stand I was quite intrigued by the concept of their software, as they say they are leading a new era of analytics driven storage:

  • Traditional sans weren’t designed for virtualization.
  • Storage bottlenecks cause 70% of VMware performance issues.
  • Virtual Machine workloads are dynamic.
  • You can’t fix what you don’t understand.
  • Lack of analytics makes design difficult.

They offer two products:

Pernixdata FVP (acceleration)

Is a software solution to bring flash performance to the rescue in servers, Hyper convergence and storage, it software base solution that sits on the VMware host  and can effectively turn a SAN in to a flash array, increasing the performance of a VM 10x faster than storage alone.

PernixData Architect (analytics)

Is a tool to provide system data and analytics, it will analyse your VM and storage requirements and help optimise your environment based on results. Its 100 hardware agnostic and will help optimise storage for applications.

One of the biggest discussions was around the importance of block sizes, now this was not a shock to me as I learnt about block size 20 years ago. When you needed to take the block size in to consideration when building Netware servers for calculating the amount of Ram and Disk you needed. So the important question is what is a block?

  • A block is a chunk of data a single unit in a data stream.
  • This unit would be a read or a write from a single I/O operation
  • Block size referees to the payload size of a unit.
  • So a 256K block has 64 times the payload of a 4K block.

A block size can be changed by:

  • Changing Read / Write activity of a VM.
  • Changes in demand of applications.
  • Upgrading the operating system of a VM.
  • Upgrading applications running on a VM.
  • Enabling features or functions on an application.
  • Changing virtual resources.

Why does it matter, well any of the above changes may have unintended consequences on storage performance. Large block require more efforts resources and time to pass across the storage, Impacting performance of VM’s and infrastructure.

Flash doesn’t always solve the problem in fact it can make it worse as Flash tends to struggle with large blocks as its optimised for 8K blocks.

Using PernixData Architect it’s possible to identify a number of conclusions:

Architect has proven that write I/O’s are generally larger that read I/O’s affecting the performance of VM’s.

  • The correlation between block size and latency becomes crystal clear.
  • Workloads have an ever changing distribution of block sizes.
  • Changes in one workload will impact other workloads on the same shared storage.
  • A minimal amount of large block I/O’s can have a negative impact on well performing small block I/O.
  • Block sizes can have a profound impact on storage performance and consistency.
  • Metrics regarding block sizes are largely invisible to Administrators.
  • PernixData Architect is the only solution that allows you to easily understand block sizes and their impact on the applications and the infrastructure.

I was certainly impressed by the product offerings and may well download the Trials form their website to install in my lab, there is even a free slimmed down version of FVP called FVP Freedom that I will also add to the list for installation at some point. In fact if it improve’s the performance of my Homelab that may be a feature for Alex’s new project #OpenHomeLab (see below)

openhomelab

Next up we had a session from LonVMUG’s own Alex Galbraith @alexgalbraith titled,  Home Lab Geek-­Out, this was more of a session about what kinds of labs people run so:

  • Labs at home
  • Labs in the cloud
  • Labs on real Kit v home friendly kit

We discussed a number of issues around home labs focusing on:

  • licensing
  • power consumption
  • performance
  • noise
  • cooling

However the real purpose of Alex’s session was the kickoff of a new venture he is working on entitled the #OpenHomeLab Project.

For more information you can follow the new twitter account @OpenHomelab and I would make sure you are following Alex and keep an eye on his blog. I hope to be able to contribute in some way to the project in the future as I build up my home lab.

“Daily challenges of vsphere projects” – Graeme Vermeulen

To finish the day off we then had a session from Graeme Vermeulen @VermeulenGraeme entitled Daily challenges of vSphere projects, Graham gave us the benefits and wisdom  of his experience of working on a number of VMware projects.

His key points were:

  • Change the default network name.
  • Best practice to use vlans where possible.
  • Always check network port speeds done get caught with a 100Mb Nic!
  • Do things the VMware way where possiable.
  • Follow best practice (allowing for any budget constraints)
  • Always check the compatibility matrix.
  • Understand how the infrastructure connects together.
  • Understand the storage.
  • Fc can be seen as the dinosaur of the storage world in a hyper converged environment so ISCSI and NFS are now more common. Maybe best applied to green field sites.
  • As long as you can justify a design decision it’s ok but don’t blag as it can be dangerous.

vBeers – sponsored by 10ZiG

10zig

Then it was off to the pub for a bit more socialising I can only thank 10 Zig again for an excellent evening at the Old Bank of England Pub before I headed back to Waterloo for the train home.

 The Dates are now out for the next 5 meetings so make a date in the diary for:

  • 23rd June 2016 (Election day)
  • 17th November 2016 (UK VMUG The National Motorcycle Museum Birmingham)
  • 19th January 2017
  • 6th April 2017
  • 22nd June 2017