*Update* vExpert and Intel NVMe Optane Giveaway

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A few months ago I was contacted by Intel as they wanted to engage deeper with the vCommunity and vExperts. My Intel contact, Scott Sherman, was a person I new from my Phoenix VMUG days. We met back in 2009 when Scott was working with Xsigo. He remembered the great blogs I did for Xsigo back in 2011 and wanted to chat more about enabling the vCommunity with Intel hardware.

Through a series of meetings Scott and I were able to come up with a framework worthy of presenting to the vExpert team. Scott was able to allocate 600 Intel Optane P4800 375GB NVMe drives in a PCIe or 2.5 Inch formfactor. The drives came in packs of 10 which would enable us to give them away to 60 vExperts. We chose 10 drives as this would enable the vExperts to create an all flash vSAN configuration or they could use the drives for other home lab fun. The only question now was how do we get these drives in the hands of the vExperts.

We presented our ideas to the vExpert Staff (Corey Romero) and they loved the idea. We came up with the idea to ask the vExperts to fill out a surrey explaining how they would use the disks and if selected how could they promote their outcomes. We’d present this program overview to the vExperts and after they filled out the survey we would review then select the lucky 60.

Over this past week we’ve been reviewing the surveys and there were a lot of great candidates. In fact, some of them even made special blog posts and videos!

It wasn’t easy to choose which vExperts would receive these disks. In reviewing their responses, Intel, VMware, and myself really looked at each entry and tried to surmise how they would use and promote these drives. We visited their social media platforms to get a feel of how they might plus we looked at their activity. We also considered other platforms and venues they shared with us and read each of their entries. We narrowed it down and discussed why each candidate would be chosen.

Now that we have our 1st round picks, we will be sending drives to them this week. They will be notified by the vExpert program and should see their drives the first week of January 2022. Additionally, we will be scheduling a Mid-January meeting to help enable them.

But wait there’s more! We will be sending out a “thanks for applying” email to those who were not selected in the 1st round. However don’t fret, We are working on a 2nd chance plan for those who applied but didn’t get selected. We are planning to setup a meeting to help these candidates become more viable. With a little work I have no doubt that many folks from this group will be selected.

But wait there’s even more! This is not fully confirmed but we may be able to open the 2nd round to folks in EMEA. We are working on some Intel magic to be able to ship to EMEA. Fingers crossed on this one and stay tuned!

It’s been a pleasure helping and enabling my fellow vExperts but please do keep in mind that all official communication should be coming from the vExpert team.

Why I didn’t choose a Noctua replacement fan

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We’ve all been there, we’ve picked out a new router, switch, or other device for our home lab and the fans are LOUD. First thing we do is to replace those fans with something a little more quiet. We hit up our favorite online store, maybe read some reviews, and choose a fan that fits. Sometimes that fan is an expensive Noctua fan because its promise of being quiet is so alluring. After the fan is replaced it is a bit more quiet but now the fan error lights are on or it malfunctions. Clearly it’s the wrong fan for our device.

In this blog I’ll go over some of the items you should look for when buying a replacement fan for your devices that can help you find a better fit and not break your wallet. Fair warning, the stock fans in these engineered devices were designed to be optimal for said device. Altering them in any way can be harmful to the device plus working on electronics without proper training is never advised.

First, identify the stock fan in your device and find its datasheet. You may need to remove the fan from your device. I recently replaced some fans in my Mellanox IS5022 InfiniBand Switch. The stock fan was made by Delta, the make #EPB0142VHD Subtype -R00, it has 3 wires, 12 Volt DC Brushless, and draws .18 AMPS. I underlined Subtype as it is very important when identifying your stock fan. In this case if I just search for the make I’ll get the wrong fan information. In fact EPB0142VHD with no subtype only has 2 wires.

Second, I review the stock fan specification datasheet. I already know the Voltage and Amp rating but here are the things I also need:

  • Fan Size – 40mm x 40mm x 20mm
  • Hole Mount Size – 32 mm between mount points
  • Hole diameter – 3.5 mm diameter.
  • Length of Wires – 330 mm
  • Identify the 3 wires and their purpose – 12v, Ground, and Lock Rotor
  • Db Noise rating – 32-36 Dba
  • RPM – 9000 RPM
  • CFM – 10

Not sure if you caught it but identifying the 3 wires on the stock fan is critical if you want to resolve these error lights. Most 3 wires fans are going to have 12v DC and Ground. It’s that 3rd wire that makes them unique and its one of the more important items you must find out to select the correct replacement fan.

The 3 most common types of 3 wire fans are:

  • Step RPM Speed – think of this like gears on a bike. The fan speed steps from one RPM to another. Most have between 3-5 steps in RPM.
  • PWM – Pulse Width Modulation, allows for granular speed control. Instead of instantly stepping to the next speed it is gradually sped up and down.
  • Locked Rotor (sometimes called alert) – This is a fan spin error detection. Normally, the fan will spin at one speed. 40 mm Locked Rotor fans seem to be the most common for routers, switches, and other similar devices.

Another item is the length of the wires. The datasheet shows 330 mm (+-10mm), however the fan you order could be shorter. It’s best just to measure the stock fan, and make sure the replacement fan you ordered has enough length or room to stash the wires if they are too long.

Third, now that I understand my stock fan I’m ready to choose a replacement fan that meets with my goal of reducing fan noise. In most cases, fan noise is reduced by slowing the RPM. Additionally, there are fans specifically designed to reduce noise but they can be expensive. I thoroughly looked at 40mm Noctua fans but none of them matched the voltage and Locked Rotor requirements. However, I still see a lot of folks buying Noctua 40mm fans and then complaining about the fan error lights or issues with it malfunctioning. Most just ignore these errors or alter the fan wires to send a false message to the device. Both I don’t recommend.

In this case I choose the Sunon MagLev KDE1204PKV3 MS.AR.GN 40x40x20mm 3pin Low-Speed 5200RPM 6.3CFM (Locked Rotor Alarm Signal). Cost is about $6.50 US, compared to a non-compliant Noctura $14 US

How do the stock and replacement fans compare:

Item (recommendation)Delta EPB0142VHD-R00Sunon KDE1204PKV3 MS.AR.GN
DC Volts (match)1212
Amps (do not exceed stock)0.180.03
Fan Size (match)40mm x 40mm x 20mm40mm x 40mm x 20mm
Hole Mount Size (match)32 mm32 mm
Hole Diameter (close match)3.5 mm4 mm
Length of Wires (match)330 mm300 mm
3 wire purpose (match)12v, Ground, Lock Rotor12v, Ground, Locked Rotor
Db Noise rating (reduce)32-36 Dba18 Dba
RPM (close match)90005200
CFM (close match)106.3

Fourth, Prepare the fan to be installed. One item I didn’t mention was the fan edge connector. Most data sheets do not come with information on the edge connector as device manufactures may customize this. In this size of fan the edge connectors seem to be a standard size with some variants.

Some fans will need their wire order changed to match the circuitry on the device. Aligning these pins is critical, if they are wrong you could damage your device. For example your replacement fan came with Pin 1 12v Red, Pin 2 Ground Black, and Pin 3 Motor Lock Yellow (Sometimes White or Blue) you might need to reordered them to match your device. Simply use a wire pin removal tool, light pressure down, and push the pin out. Then, reorder the pins to match your device and you are good to go.

Next the replacement fan mount hole might be a factor. Some replacement fans come with screws or bolts that you may be able to use. If not, you may be able to use the stock hardware or hardware you provide. Either way, depending on the hole size you may have to work this out a bit. In my case, the stock fan screws worked perfectly. Tip – Don’t over crank or force in screws, it may damage your fan.

If your stock fan had a protection sleeve over the wires you may want to reuse it as some devices have sharp metal edges that may cut into your wires. Fan vibration may also cause this too. As an alternative, you may want to consider adding heat shrink when you re-pin the fan.

Lastly, how did my selection perform? Basically, the Sunon is a very close replacement to the Delta. It has a reduced RPM and CFM which drops its Db noise by 20 Db. Since I choose a replacement fan that is not an exact match, I’ll need to monitor the device and ensure its temps are within normal thresholds.

Very unscientifically, I used a Db meter app in my smartphone to measure the Db for the Delta and Sunon Fans. The noise reduction was notable and best of all no fan error lights.

Summary, there is no doubt that Noctua makes a quality fan product but they can be expensive and sometimes do not meet the requirements of your stock fans. If you can find one that does, it may be worth the extra spend. However, by doing just a bit of research you are sure to land on a replacement fan that will meet your goals and not break your wallet. My goal was to reduce fan noise for my home lab and by doing my homework I hit a home run with the first fan I chose.

Thanks for reading and do feel free to leave a comment or suggestion.

A shout to VMware Embedded OEM Partners

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Today, I’m honored to be recognized by our VMware Customer Experience and Success team for my efforts in supporting eOEM.  However, building up to this day took a lot of effort and an a industrious sprit to ensure success for my partner.  Inside of VMware, I became an internal advocate for the needs of our eOEM partners, and I’ll continue helping them through their challenges plus aligning them for success. They truly partner with you and help to ensure your success as much as theirs.  In this blog are some of my thoughts around working with VMware eOEM and some secrets to my success.

For the past 11+ years I’ve been a Technical Account Manager (TAM) with VMware. From day 1 I was assigned a VMware Embedded OEM (eOEM) Partner and I’ve loved every minute of it. When I first started, 2011, inspiring the global industrial market to move into virtualization was no small task and in working with my eOEM Partner early on it was apparent they understood their customer at a very deep level. This was something I needed to master if I was going to be successful with eOEM customer. For the past 40+ years, my eOEM Partner has held an annual global industrial users group meeting.  This event has helped to build a very loyal customer base. This event is very similar to VMUG in many ways and early on in my TAM assignment I knew this customer bond was extremely valuable. However, ensuring I understood their customers’ requirements and business objectives was the key to my success. I knew this event was an opportunity to learn as much as I could about industrial controls and their needs. When folks ask me about my first day with VMware, I like to tell them I was born at my partners event, meaning my first day with VMware was at their annual event. I was working the VMware booth talking about Industrial process and how it relates to VMware. I knew this was my opportunity to ask more questions to their customers then they asked of me. Additionally, during lunch breaks and nightly events I would always sit with folks I didn’t know. Sometimes it would be my partners employees or their customers, either way I would always push my boundaries to learn something new. Through event I started better understand their customer base and by leveraging this deep understanding of their business, I was able to help them become very successful in their market space. My eOEM Partner has been so pleased with my performance they have invited me back every year since 2011 and now their customers ask for me by name.

Knowing your TAM customers business, ensuring support alignment, and being their best advocate are just a few examples of how I aligned my eOEM Partner for success. I put a focus on bringing the best value to our partner, helped them build a broad offering with our products, and in turn both companies have flourished. Additionally, having our efforts recognized helped to solidify the efforts that we both put into their product line. In 2017, we won two awards: Partner Innovation OEM Award and the TAM award for Emerging Trends and Technology. The team was presented the TAM award at VMworld 2017 by Pat Gelsinger.

Quick Start with Power CLI 12.7

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I was tasked with setting and testing a quick PowerCLI command today and my system was a bit behind. Of course I took to Youtube to find how to get started quickly with PowerCLI but most of the videos I located were too complex. In this quick blog post I’m going to go over the steps I took to update my Windows Environment with PowerShell, Install PowerCLI, and get it up and running.

Note: this procedure is for Windows systems that are connected to the Internet. There are manual ways to install PowerCLI. However, this post doesn’t cover that process. Additionally, there are Prerequisites to installing PowerCLI, check out this link for more information.

First — I checked to see what version of PowerShell (PS) I have installed. I opened a PowerShell command window as Admin and entered the following command. $PSVersionTable. From the output I could see I had 5.1.19041…

I could have also entered $PS.versionTable.PSversion

Note: Newer versions of Windows should have PowerShell installed by default. If you don’t have PowerShell installed follow this guide for 5.1.

Second – Now it was time to install PowerCLI

  1. Open the PS5 App as Admin
  2. Run this command to download – Install-Module -Name VMware.PowerCLI
    • Read and answer Yes or All when prompted (Be patient it may take a bit)
  3. Next you’ll need to Set Execution Policies:
    • Enter the command – ‘Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned’
    • More info on Execution Policies HERE
  4. Next command: ‘Set-PowerCLIConfiguration -InvalidCertificateAction Ignore -Confirm:$false’

Third – Ensure PowerCLI Commands are working

  1. With the PowerShell APP open try this commend to see the version of PowerCLI
    • ‘Get-PowerCLIVersion’ << Deprecated command, but works for now
    • Also ‘Get-Module’ will tell you the version
  2. Connect to your vCenter Server
    • Enter the command ‘Connect-VIServer [FQDN or IP]
    • Once Connected try the command ‘Get-VM’ to see a list of VM’s

These commands might seem simple but I was amazed by the amount of trial and effort it took to get PowerCLI up and running. I’m sure there are other issues folks might run into. If you do run into an issue post a comment below and I’ll be glad to help out.

#VMUG Keynote around being Left-handed and DE&I

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I had the honor of presenting the keynote session at the Phoenix Usercon last week. It was my first time in public talking about how my laterality (left-handedness) broadened my view of #diversityequityandinclusion. I got some really great feedback from the audience and I’m hoping it helped them broaden their view too. If you want to know more check out my article here. https://www.linkedin.com/…/being-left-handed-dei…/ #vmug #vexpert #diversity #vmware

VMware vExpert Session: Home Labs A Definitive Guide June-2022

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I have presented my HOME LABS: A DEFINITIVE GUIDE to various groups. However, in this session I present it to my fellow vExperts. During these sessions I go into detail around VMware Home lab design considerations, which is something we usually don’t think of when building a home lab.

If you are looking for the links in the video simply download the slides via this link:

HOME LAB: Guide / Info

I do hope you find this information very useful. Please feel free to ask any questions or post comments…

Thanks — Enjoy!


Home Lab Generation 7: Migration to ALL Flash vSAN

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In this video I review and show how I migrated my vSAN Hybrid deployment to All Flash vSAN.

Video Highlights:

  • I cover some of my goals and reasons why I have made this investment
  • Review the changes required
  • Talk about how I Backed Up and Migration of my current data using the LOCKERSTOR 10 and Synology 1621+
  • The way I decommission vSAN with only 3-nodes
  • I then build a new vSAN Cluster and migrated the data.
  • Wrapping it up I review Parts List and show how I built the new vSAN Cluster.

NOTE: This is a non-production and non-supported home lab. Products used in this environment are in no way intended for production systems.

See helpful links and additional photos below.

Helpful Links:

Photos not in the video:

Pre-Migration Host

Post Migration Host (Much cleaner)

Home Lab Generation 7: VM Migrate Greyed out KB 1029926

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In this quick video I show how to enable VM Migration after a failed or incomplete Synology Active Backup.

Links in this Video:
Migration options for a virtual machine are greyed out though vMotion is licensed (1029926) https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/1029926

Storage vMotion migration fails with the error: The method is disabled by ‘SYMC-INCR dd-mm-yyyy hh:mm’ (2008957) https://kb.vmware.com/s/article/2008957

How I passed VCAP-DCV Deploy 2022 – Notes and thoughts

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This past weekend I passed my VCAP-DCV Deploy 2022 test.  For me the VCAP-DCV Deploy 2022 test was the third test I took in 2022.  By completing it, the VCP-DCV 2022 and the VCAP-DCV Design 2022 I’ve now earned the badge of VCIX-DCV 2022.  This now qualifies me to apply for the VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX)  In this blog post I’m going to review some tips around my testing process.

**Update – Further below, I’ve added a video commentary**

Cloud Management and Automation Design 2022

What is the VCAP-DCV Deploy 2022 test?

  • Advanced Deploy VMware vSphere 7.x (3V0-22.21N) is a 205 minute live lab with 17 Questions and costs $450 USD.
  • The live lab is very similar to the way VMware HOL labs work.
  • Currently, you can take the VCAP Deploy online via a remote proctored exam or in person at a test facility.
  • More information about this exam check out this URL

Test Taking Tips:

  1. Online Proctor Tips
    • The process to take a remote proctored test was pretty simple and convenient.  Even before COVID I’ve been taking remote proctored tests with great success.
    • After I registered for the exam, I got an email from OnVue with 2 key links.  One tested my environment to make sure I met certain standards (Audio, video, and microphone) and the other was the link for the day of the exam.
    • Be familiar with the OnVue Online proctoring technical requirements. They can be a bit strict about this, so make sure you are ready to go.
    • Only one monitor is permitted.  All other monitors will need to be disconnected.  If using a laptop with remote monitor the laptop lid will need to be all the way down.  I’d recommend using a monitor you are most familiar with and meets the requirements.
    • One requirement is to have a very clean desktop.  I have a large desk with many things to move.  The requirement is, desktop items need to be at a arms distance away.  So I only clear my desk to that requirement.  Reminding the proctor of this arms length requirement might be necessary. However, don’t argue too much as you may they may find you system doesn’t meet requirements and reschedule your exam.
  2. Be VERY familiar with VMware HOL
    • Make sure you have a good idea on how to resize the Windows display screen and the change the zoom in your browser to a level that is easy for you to read.  I had a hard time seeing the lab text, and after resizing I found where I made errors.  This may seem like basic tasks, but the HOL visibility is a bit different. Going into this test with an idea of what settings work best for you can prove to be helpful.
    • Knowing how to properly COPY, CUT, and PASTE content within the Lab OS and from the Manual into the Lab OS is key – Practice this in HOL.  Mastery of this skill is vital as it will save you time and typos.
  3. The Exam Lab Environment
    • Before I got into the exam lab environment I was presented with a Welcome Screen.  It had information around the exam, lab, passwords, and the lab layout.  I read it all and made sure I understood before I started the lab.  This did not count against my time to complete.
    • Next, I was presented with a ‘Starting the lab’ screen, as soon as I clicked next the clock started and my lab started to deploy.  Almost instantly the manual was made available on the right as the lab started to “spin up”.  The manual explained the various lab details and items at my disposal.  I took time to read and understand this. It was very similar to VMware HOL.
    • Very soon after, my exam lab OS was deployed and ready.  The lab OS was based on Windows.
    • The Windows OS had pre-installed programs and tools.  Additionally, there is a Student folder that is created.  Inside it contained locally readable and select vSphere documentation, KB’s, and important files.  As I went through my exam, I used most of them to complete tasks.
      • NOTE: The exam doesn’t give you internet access so use the tools and documents they provide to you.  Not every document or written procedure you need will be in this folder.  Some tasks you just have to know how to do it.  Don’t forget about time management, if you find yourself deeply reading the documentation it may be a waste of time if you don’t complete the question. You may want to come back to these questions if you have enough time at the end.
    • Next I moved on to the questions and completed my lab
  4. Multi-Tasked Questions:
    • A better way to describe the exam questions would be calling them multi-tasked.  I say multi-tasked as each succinct question could include multiple tasks.
    • For each question, some of the tasks go together and some of them are have no bearing on the others
    • Some questions are very short and some are very long.
    • Some take a lot of time to complete and some do not.
    • Questions or Tasks do not tell you how to do something, they simply state the task(s) it wants you to complete.
    • In reading the welcome screen, it stated something like – “the questions are mostly independent of one another” and I don’t recall any that were dependent on the exam.
    • As I progressed through the exam, I took time to read those questions/tasks closely. If you are only reading part of the question OR didn’t read it thoroughly you might easily miss something.
    • The entire question/task can task you to do something, don’t expect it to be specifically listed out in a list.  Any part of the question is fair game, read it all.
    • You don’t have to wait for a task to complete, let it run and come back to it.
    • Track the status of your questions. Since questions are multi-tasked you might start tasks but have to move on.  By the time you come back to it, you might have completed or started several other tasks.  It’s really easy to miss something when you are multi-tasking. My tip — Use the built-in white board or notepad to track your progress.  Before I started the test, I opened the white board, listed out the 17 numbers.  As I progressed through the test I marked each one complete, needs work, or a quick note.  This way when I return to the question or am doing a final review, I know exactly where I left off.  The PIC below is an example of my list, it was not actually from my test.
    • Don’t waste time — If you don’t know the answer to the question/task, mark it in your list, move on, and if time permits come back to it.  Just try to get as many questions/tasks completed as possible.

Study TIPS:

  1. ANY vSphere concept is fair game, even items that have been around since the beginning.
  2. READ the exam guide. Review all its links, content, and come up with a study plan.
  3. Search for labs, documents, or videos labeled something like, “What’s New in…”, take it, read it, practice it, and know it well.  Chances are if you don’t understand or know some of the latest and greatest concepts you’ll need to practice them thoroughly.
  4. Take all the VMware HOL Odyssey Labs.  They are free training or test simulation resource that will task you and keep you under a clock.
  5. For me, having a Home lab to practice on was instrumental in passing this test.

Video Commentary:

Wrap up:

I really enjoyed taking the Deploy exam.  It was interesting and challenged me technically.  Some of those questions really worked the brain cells and others I knew right away.  If  a person wants to pass this test, then I suggest study hard and lots of practice plus experience should help align them for success.  Best of luck on your certification journey!

Quick NAS Topics: Create your own iperf3 Docker Container

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In this Quick NAS Topic video and the steps further below, I use docker to create a ubuntu container with Linux tools and iperf3.

This video is a supplement for the 10Gbe Home NAS Lab Part 7. In Part 7 I show how to use these containers to network performance test the 3 NAS devices I have.  


Docker Ubuntu/iperf3 Basic Steps:  Items in-between [ ] and the brackets should be removed

  • On the NAS:
    1. Ensure devices can access the inet OR not covered in this blog, you’ll need to manually import and export images, etc. 
    2. Ensure Docker-ce and if needed Shell-in-a-box and portainer are installed and basic configuration is done.  The Synology didn’t need shell in a box or portainter
    3. Test Docker Install
      • docker -v << Shows the version
      • docker images << Show the images that are available
      • docker ps  << Shows the running containers
    4. Elevate local privileges to run docker commands
      • It may be necessary to use ‘sudo’ in front of docker commands to get them to execute, followed by the admin/root password.  Example:  sudo docker ps
    5. Download and run Ubuntu
      • docker pull ubuntu   << Image is located here https://hub.docker.com/_/ubuntu
      • docker run -it ubuntu bash  << Creates an instance of this image for us to modify and opens up the terminal
    6. Update the Ubuntu running container
      • apt-get -y update
      • apt-get install iproute2
      • apt-get install net-tools
      • apt-get install iputils
      • apt-get install iputils-ping
      • apt-get install -y iperf3
      • Test with ping and iperf3 -v
      • Do not exit
    7. Commit and push the new image
      • docker ps -l  << Check for the latest running container, and note the Container ID of the container that was just updated with these steps
      • docker commit  [Container ID]  [repository name]/[insert-container-name] 
      • docker images  << will validate that the image is now there
      • docker push [repository name]/[Container you want to push] 
  • Testing Steps
    • Check basic ping between all devices
    • Put one device in server mode iperf3 -s
    • On the other device start the test iperf3 -c [Target IP]