vmware

Home Lab GEN V: The Quest for More Cores! – First Look

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Over the past 10+ years I’ve posted all types of information around my home lab builds.  Check out my guide for more information. Most recently I decided to update my home lab to be able to support the resource demands of so many great vmware products.  I’m not quite ready to go into detail around my new home lab but  in this video blog I wanted to give you a first look at some of the components.  Soon I post up several blogs around all the details.  So, for now enjoy the first look, it’s a bit of a rough video but I’m a technologist not a Hollywood director :)

If you like my ‘no-nonsense’ videos and blogs that get straight to the point… then post a comment or let me know… Else, I’ll start posting really boring content!

Create an ESXi installation ISO with custom drivers in 9 easy steps!

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One of the challenges in running a VMware based home lab is the ability to work with old / inexpensive hardware but run latest software. Its a balance that is sometimes frustrating, but when it works it is very rewarding. Most recently I decided to move to 10Gbe from my InfiniBand 40Gb network. Part of this transition was to create an ESXi ISO with the latest build (6.7U3) and appropriate network card drivers. In this video blog post I’ll show 9 easy steps to create your own customized ESXi ISO and how to pin point IO Cards on the vmware HCL.

 

Here are the written steps I took from my video blog.  If you are looking for more detail, watch the video.

Before you start – make sure you have PowerCLI installed, have download these files,  and have placed these files in c:\tmp.

I started up PowerCLI and did the following commands:

1) Add the ESXi Update ZIP file to the depot:

Add-EsxSoftwareDepot C:\tmp\update-from-esxi6.7-6.7_update03.zip

2) Add the LSI Offline Bundle ZIP file to the depot:

Add-EsxSoftwareDepot ‘C:\tmp\qlcnic-esx55-6.1.191-offline_bundle-2845912.zip’

3) Make sure the files from step 1 and 2 are in the depot:

Get-EsxSoftwareDepot

4) Show the Profile names from update-from-esxi6.7-6.7_update03. The default command only shows part of the name. To correct this and see the full name use the ‘| select name’ 

Get-EsxImageProfile | select name

5) Create a clone profile to start working with.

New-EsxImageProfile -cloneprofile ESXi-6.7.0-20190802001-standard -Name ESXi-6.7.0-20190802001-standard-QLogic -Vendor QLogic

6) Validate the LSI driver is loaded in the local depot.  It should match the driver from step 2.  Make sure you note the name and version number columns.  We’ll need to combine these two with a space in the next step.

Get-EsxSoftwarePackage -Vendor q*

7) Add the software package to the cloned profile. Tip: For ‘SoftwarePackage:’ you should enter the ‘name’ space ‘version number’ from step 6.  If you just use the short name it might not work.

Add-EsxSoftwarePackage

ImageProfile: ESXi-6.7.0-20190802001-standard-QLogic
SoftwarePackage[0]: net-qlcnic 6.1.191-1OEM.600.0.0.2494585

8) Optional: Compare the profiles, to see differences, and ensure the driver file is in the profile.

Get-EsxImageProfile | select name   << Run this if you need a reminder on the profile names

Compare-EsxImageProfile -ComparisonProfile ESXi-6.7.0-20190802001-standard-QLogic -ReferenceProfile ESXi-6.7.0-20190802001-standard

9) Create the ISO

Export-EsxImageProfile -ImageProfile “ESXi-6.7.0-20190802001-standard-QLogic” -ExportToIso -FilePath c:\tmp\ESXi-6.7.0-20190802001-standard-QLogic.iso

That’s it!  If you like my ‘no-nonsense’ videos and blogs that get straight to the point… then post a comment or let me know… Else, I’ll start posting boring video blogs!

Going to 10Gbe from 40Gb with the MikroTik CRS309-1G-8S+IN

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As my Home Lab has evolved I’m always looking to make it better and at the same time learn something new. When I started work on Home Lab Gen IV (2016) I really wanted to have a high speed network to support vSAN. At that time 10Gbe networking was cost prohibitive and InfiniBand networking was faster, something that was new to me, and its cost was in the ball park I wanted to spend.

While I was able to get my InfiniBand network to work, it had a couple of the downsides – ageing technology, lack of support, difficult to work with, and power/noise was not optimal. Most of these I overcame but what I really needed was affordable 10Gbe Cards, Cables and a fan-less/low power Switch.

I know its a pipe dream, right? Well, this past week I got a new MikroTik CRS309-1G-8S+IN!  Its 8 Ports of 10Gbe SFP+, no fan, and only 17 watts. Best part, its in a price range for most home lab folks. I found it doing a few searches and some of my fellow Home Lab enthusiasts are using it too.

In this video I chat a bit about InfiniBand vs. 10Gbe, I unbox the device and in the weeks to come I’ll post up some more videos around its use. 

If you like my ‘no-nonsense’ videos that get straight to the point… then post a comment or let me know… Else, I’ll start posting boring video blogs!

FIX for Netgear Orbi Router / Firewall blocks additional subnets

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Last April my trusty Netgear Switch finally gave in.  I bought a nifty Dell PowerConnect 6224 switch and have been working with it off an on.  About the same time, I decided to update my home network with the Orbi WiFi System (RBK50) AC3000 by Netgear.  My previous Netgear Wifi router worked quite well but I really needed something to support multiple locations seamlessly.

The Orbi Mesh has a primary device and allows for satellites to be connected to it.  It creates a Wifi mesh that allows devices to go from room to room or building to building seamlessly.  I’ve had it up for a while now and its been working out great – that is until I decided to ask it to route more than one subnet.   In this blog I’ll show you the steps I took to over come this feature limitation but like all content on my blog this is for my reference – travel, use, or follow at your own risk.

To understand the problem we need to first understand the network layout.   My Orbi Router is the Gateway of last resort and it supplies DHCP and DNS services. In my network I have two subnets which are untagged VLANS known as VLAN 74 – 172.16.74.x/24 and VLAN 75 – 172.16.75.x/24.   VLAN 74 is used by my home devices and VLAN 75 is where I manage my ESXi hosts.  I have enabled RIP v2 on the Orbi and on the PC6224 switch.  The routing tables are populated correctly, and I can ping from any subnet to any host without issue.

Issue:  Hosts on VLAN 75 are not able to get to the internet.  Hosts on VLAN 75 can resolve DNS names (example: yahoo.com) but it cannot ping any host on the Inet, where VLAN 74 can ping Inet hosts and get to the internet.  I’d like for my hosts on VLAN 75 to have all the same functionally as my hosts on VLAN 74.

Findings:  By default, the primary Orbi router is blocking any host that is not on VLAN 74 from getting to the INET.  I believe Netgear enable this block to limit the number of devices the Orbi could NAT.  I can only guess that either the router just can’t handle the load or this was a maximum Netger tested it to.  I found this block out by logging into the routers CLI and looking at the IPTables settings.  There I could clearly see there was firewall rule blocking hosts that were not part of VLAN 74.

Solution:  Adjust the Orbi to allow all VLAN traffic (USE AT YOUR OWN RISK)

  1. Enable Telnet access on your Primary Orbi Router.
    1. Go to http://{your orbi ip address}/debug.htm
    2. Choose ‘Enable Telnet’ (**reminder to disable this when done**)
    3. Telnet into the Orbi Router
  2. I issued the command ‘iptables -t filter -L loc2net’. In the output of this command you can see where its dropping all traffic that is not (!) VLAN74
  3. Let’s remove this firewall rule. The one I want to target is 5th in the list, yours may vary.  This command will remove it ‘iptables -t filter -D loc2net 5’
  4. Next, we need to clean up some post routing issues ‘iptables -t nat -I POSTROUTING 1 -o brwan -j MASQUERADE’
  5. A quick test and I can now PING and get to the internet.
  6. Disconnect from Telnet and Disable it on your router.

Note:  Unfortunately, this is not a permanent fix.  Once you reboot your router the old settings come back.  The good news is, its only two to three lines to fix this problem.  Check out the links below for more information and a script.

If you like my ‘no-nonsense’ blog articles that get straight to the point… then post a comment or let me know… Else, I’ll start writing boring blog content.

REF:

 

 

7 tips for getting to VMworld 2019

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I’ve been lucky enough to make it to very VMworld since 2008 but it wasn’t always easy getting there. Being the former Phoenix VMUG leader and currently a 8-year VMware employee I’ve come across all types of VMworld tips. In this blog post I list out my tips to help enable you to be more successful in positioning your “ask” or “request” to attend.

TIP #1: Make VMworld your personal goal!

Okay, so you got the big No from your employer. Normal reasons for a denial are “costs too much”, “value to our company”, or “we can’t afford to have you away”. Fair enough, but the real question should be – how prepared were you to support your request? Imagine you are the manager and an employee somewhat casually asked you to spend $1000’s to go to an event you may never even heard of. What would your reaction be? Chances are you’d say no too.

Set a goal to attend VMworld – Say it again “Set a GOAL to attend VMworld” Think about it this way — you know VMworld is going to happen, so why not add it to your yearly goals? Even if your company doesn’t have goal planning then start a personal list and think about how to achieve this goal.

TIP #2: We achieve what we focus on the most

If getting to VMworld was always easy then I wouldn’t be writing this blog post. If you are being turned down year after year, you might consider a change of focus. Your focus should be known but not annoying. In other words, let others know that VMware and getting to VMworld is what you are passionate about. Let them know how VMware technologies help innovate your company, how it reduces downtime, how it makes you all more secure, etc. etc. By letting others know and understand your passion you’ll go from the person asking to go, to your VMware thought leader and soon management will be coming to you telling you to go to VMworld vs. you asking to go.

TIP #3:  Get Help

Next, don’t do this alone. Do you have someone who can help support your goal? Maybe it is a fellow employee, VMware account team, VMware TAM, VMUG leader / Users, and most importantly don’t forget about your partners that support the VMware community. Talk with them, tell them about your goals and the reasons why you want to achieve them, see how they can help support you. Finally, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Are other employees successful in going to training, conferences, or events? Clearly, they are successful with their requests, so why not work with them on your goals and find new ways to be successful.

TIP #4 Getting past the “Total Cost”

Having your employer pick of the tab can be a challenge. Your plan should include the total cost to attend, how you plan to fund it, and keep in mind this cost can be quite high for some companies on a tight budget. My suggestion is if you are getting the big ‘No’ due to costs then work with your company around the total costs. First find out why it’s a ‘No’ and look for opportunities to overcome this, then use my tips below to enhance your plan. In general, your first challenge in subsidizing cost maybe your company’s policy around accepting gifts. Understand this policy well, don’t just take someone’s word as there maybe ways to accept gifts under specific circumstances. Read your companies current policy and ask the policy writers questions to better understand it. I think you’ll find there are ways to do this you just need to do some research.  Explore your company – Talk with your travel department or even HR/Benefits around funding sources as there maybe programs to help employees with Education and events. Point is, ask and explore you never know what you will find and be able to achieve.

TIP #5 How do I get a free VMworld Pass aka the Golden Ticket?

Getting a free pass to VMworld can be your biggest challenge. However here are some ways to get your hands on one.

  • Give-a-ways
    • I can’t tell you how many vendors do an annual giveaways contests — hit them early, often, and enter as many as you can find
    • Tips-
      • When you enter, find out who your local vendor contact is, let them know you entered, and then stay in contact with them all year long and then some
      • Keep in mind not all contests are the same, some are based on random drawings and others are not. This is why I say keep in contact with the vendor and let them know your intent.
      • How do I find give-a-ways >> Google ‘VMworld getting there for free’ or ‘VMworld contest’, Look on Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media platforms
  • Get the word out
    • Tell your boss, workmates, vendors, partners, use twitter, linked in etc. and Repeat again and again. By doing this you let others know about your strong interest in getting there, in turn they might get a lead for you.
    • Most importantly, reach out to your local VMUG leader and ask them for tips in your area. They are usually well connected and might have a lead for you as well.
    • Follow Twitter and Linked In – You never know who is going to post up “I have a pass, I cannot go, and need to give it to someone” This is pretty common just before the event and yes you can transfer a pass to someone.
    • New to Twitter, need contacts? It’s simple find the #VMworld hastag, see who is posting to it and start following them. Then look at all their contacts and follow them too, soon you’ll have a gaggle of folks
    • This sounds like work. Why do all this? Simple, distributed coverage model. The more people who know the more likely they are to help and in turn the more likely you’ll succeed.
  • Don’t forgo an Expo-Only or Solutions Exchange Pass
    • If you get offered this pass take it. I can’t tell you how many vendors have these passes and cannot give them away, seriously this is gold but folks don’t know how to leverage them.
    • First off this pass has great value, there is a TON of value here. See the current VMworld Pass features for more information but normally you can get into the larger Sessions and the Solutions Exchange
    • Second this pass can get you on to the Solutions Exchange floor where all the vendors and partners are.
    • Once there start talking to all the vendors, fellow attendees, all those folks you meet on twitter, etc. as you never know who has a full pass they couldn’t get rid of, take it and upgrade yours
    • Third while you are there with an Expo Pass use Twitter and the VMworld hash tags to let folks know you’re looking for a full pass.
    • Stop by the VMUG booth on the Expo floor, you never know who will be there and you never know if users there might be able to help you
  • Vendors and Partners
    • Find out who is sponsoring VMworld this year, and then…
      • Start calling the ones you know well, ask them for support getting there
      • Don’t forget to call the ones you don’t know so well too
      • If you have deal on the table with a vendor coming up, inquire if they can put passes in the deal.

TIP #6: What about Food, Hotel, and Travel Costs?

When you attend the event other costs include food, hotel, and travel, but how can you minimize this on a tight budget?

  • Food
    • If you get a pass then lunch and usually breakfast are included but check the schedule
    • For dinner, find out where the nightly vendor events are as they usually have food
    • Talk with Vendors they might take you out, you never know
    • Lastly, there is usually free food everywhere, in-fact feel free to give some to the homeless I usually do.
  • Hotel
    • Ask a Vendor to help pay for just the room or ask them to gift hotel points to you
    • Room Share with someone at the event << Think about it, you won’t be in the room that often and chances are from 7AM till 10PM you’ll be out of your room.
    • Use Travel sites to cut down the cost (Booking.com, Google Travel, AirBnB)
    • My Secret Hotels:
      • San Fran try the Carriage Inn and The Mosser
      • When VMworld is in Las Vegas (not for 2019) there are lots of options but try Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel (usually very quiet not a casino) or The Westin Las Vegas Hotel & Spa
    • Use your Hotel or other travel points to book the hotel for free
    • Get a low cost hotel away from the event, but watch your travel costs to get to the event
  • Travel
    • Airfare
      • Ask a vendor to pay for just the airfare, or maybe they have points they can gift you
      • Use your own travel points to pay for this
    • Rideshare to the event
      • See if one of your connections are driving to the event, offer to split fuel costs
      • You drive someone to the event, and they pick up the hotel or vise versa
    • Local Travel (try the following)
      • VMworld Shuttle
      • Hotel Shuttle
      • City Transit Options
      • Ride Share – Uber / Lyft
      • San Fran BART / Las Vegas Monorail
      • Share a Rental Car or Taxi
    • Once again hit up those vendors, they might have a way to get you around for free

TIP #7: Finally here is a breakdown of how I got to so many events and how it was paid for

Year Pass Travel Food Hotel
2008 VMworld Vendor Sponsor – Full Pass Employer Paid Vendor / Event Employer Paid
2009 VMworld VMUG Sponsored – Full Pass Vendor paid for Airfare with Miles Vendor / Event Employer Paid
2010 VMworld VMUG Sponsored – Full Pass Vendor paid for Airfare with Miles Vendor / Event Vendor Sponsored
2011 VMworld Vendor Sponsor – Expo Pass but I got an upgrade to Full by asking others I drove two others and I paid for the fuel Vendor / Event Travel Companion paid for room
2012-2019 Employee Pass Employer Paid Employer Paid Employer Paid

Summing it up…

My take is, if you REALLY want to go you’ll get there but sometimes it takes effort and if you do it right it might not cost you a thing. Don’t let anything stop you and find your way there.

Finally, after you’ve been to the event don’t forget about the folks who got you there and say ‘Thank you’. Then over the next year continue to build these relationship as you never know if you’ll need help again, or you want to help someone else get there.

Best of luck and do reach out with suggestions, comments, or great stories around how you got there!

If you like my ‘no-nonsense’ blog articles that get straight to the point… then post a comment or let me know… Else, I’ll start writing boring blog content.

UNBOXING VeloCloud’s Edge 510 AC (SD-WAN)

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This past week I got a new VeloCloud Edge 510 AC!  It was sent to me by the VMware CTO-Ambassadors program.  Its been a great internal VMware group to be part of.  In this video I simply unbox the device and in the weeks to come I’ll post up some more videos around its use. 

If you like my ‘no-nonsense’ videos that get straight to the point… then post a comment or let me know… Else, I’ll start posting boring video blogs!

vmexplorer.com now on YouTube!

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I’ve been blogging for 9 years and have always thought about adding video blogs to supplement my overall content.  Over the past year I made the investment to add this ability and I’m happy to announce today that video blogs will start to appear on vmexplorer.com

Like my blog posts my video posts will be straight to the point and no-nonsense.

If this is a perspective you can appreciate, then please do subscribe to my new YouTube Channel.

If you like my ‘no-nonsense’ blog articles that get straight to the point… then post a comment or let me know… Else, I’ll start writing boring blog content – and now boring video blogs too!

 

No web interface on a Dell PowerConnect 6224 Switch

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I picked up a Dell Powerconnect 6224 switch the other day as my older Netgear switch (2007) finally died.  After connecting to it via console cable (9600,8,1,none) I updated the Firmware image to the latest revision. I then followed the “Dell Easy Setup Wizard”, which by the way stated the web interface will work after the wizard is completed. After completing the easy wizard I opened a  browser to the switch IP address which failed.   I then pinged the switch IP address, yep it is replying.  Next, rebooted the switch – still no connection.

How did I fix this?

1- Went back into the console and entered the following command.

console(config)#ip http server

2- Next I issued a ‘show run’ to ensure the command was present

console#show run
!Current Configuration:
!System Description “PowerConnect 6224, 3.3.18.1, VxWorks 6.5”
!System Software Version 3.3.18.1
!Cut-through mode is configured as disabled
!
configure
stack
member 1 1
exit
ip address 172.16.74.254 255.255.255.0
ip default-gateway 172.16.74.1
ip http server
username “admin” password HASHCODE level 15 encrypted
snmp-server community public rw
exit

3 – This time I connected to the switch via a browser without issue.

4 – Finally, saved the running-configuration

console#copy running-config startup-config

This operation may take a few minutes.
Management interfaces will not be available during this time.

Are you sure you want to save? (y/n) y

Configuration Saved!
console#

Summary:  These were some pretty basic commands to get the http service up and running, but I’m sure I’ll run into this again and I’ll have this blog to refer too.  Next, I’m off to setup some VLANs and a few static routes.

If you like my ‘no-nonsense’ blog articles that get straight to the point… then post a comment or let me know… Else, I’ll start writing boring blog content.

Its time for Pi – ESXi on ARM Computing

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This past year I was admitted into a internal VMware program known as CTOA (CTO Ambassadors). The CTO Ambassador program is run by the VMware Office of the CTO. The CTO Ambassadors are global members of a small group of VMwares most experienced and talented customer facing, individual contributor technologists. They are pre-sales systems engineers (SEs), technical account managers (TAMs), professional services consultants, architects and global support services engineers. The ambassadors help to ensure a tight collaboration between R&D and our customers so that we can address current customer issues and future needs as effectively as possible.  More information here >> https://octo.vmware.com/author/ctoa/

During a recent CTOA conference at VMware HQ, Chris Wolf (CTO, Global Field and Industry at VMware) demonstrated ESXi ARM on a Raspberry Pi.  He went on to challenge all the CTOA members to promote ESXi on ARM with the VMware Community.  The real challenge was — How do you show your customer something new, especially when the product has not released yet?   The answer — Supply your all the CTOAs with Raspberry Pi pre-loaded with ESXi for ARM!  You can find the specs on the kit they got us from Amazon.  They added in a 32GB SD card used to boot ESXi for ARM.

Overall the kit was pretty easy to assemble and it was similar to the Motorola 6800 Trainers I used at DeVry.  Similar how you may ask?  The Pi has the Extended GPIO 40 Pin (general-purpose input/output) pins along the top edge of the board. A 40-pin GPIO header is found on all current Raspberry Pi boards. Prior to the Pi 1 Model B+ (2014), boards comprised a shorter 26-pin header. Any of the GPIO pins can be designated (in software) as an input or output pin and used for a wide range of purposes.  The DeVry 6800 Trainer had a similar I/O pin out where we could create projects.  My senior class project was a home security system running on this trainer.  We build a model home with alarm sensors, interfaced those senors into the trainer, and I wrote all the code to create the security program.  In many ways this Raspberry Pi is very similar to the DeVry Trainer, only you needed to understand low level Machine Code specific for the 6800 CPU but the Pi pretty much works with most object oriented languages of today.

I’m looking forward to working with the Pi and plan to post up some videos of ESXi on ARM soon.

pi

If you like my ‘no-nonsense’ blog articles that get straight to the point… then post a comment or let me know… Else, I’ll start writing boring blog content.

 

 

 

vCenter Server 6.5 – Migrate VMs from Virtual Distributed Switch to Standard Switch

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I was doing some testing the other day and had migrated about 25 test VM’s to a Virtual Distributed Switch (vDS) from a Standard Switch (vSS). However, to complete my testing I needed the VM’s to be migrated back to a vSS and delete the vDS entirely. In this blog I’m going to document the steps I took to accomplish this.

First step in completing this migration is to migrate the VM’s port groups from the vDS Port group to the vSS port group. One Option could be editing each VM but with 24 VM’s each with 2 vNICS, that would be about 100+ clicks to complete = very slow. However, a more efficient way is to use the vDS migrate VM’s option.

  • In the vCenter Server 6.5 HTML client, I clicked on Network > then under my vDS I right clicked on my active vDS port group
  • I then chose “Migrate VM’s to Another Network”

 

Second I chose BROWSE > a new pop up window appeared and I chose the vSS Port group that I wanted to migrate to then selected ok > I confirmed the ‘Destination Network’ was correct then clicked on next

Third, I wanted to migration both network adapters and I selected ‘All virtual machines’ then Next

Note: If I wanted to migrate individual vNIC vs all, I could have expanded each VM and then choose which network adapter I wanted to migrate.

Fourth, I reviewed the confirmation page and confirmed all 24 VM’s would be migrated, then clicked next

Fifth, here is the final report… All the VM’s have been migrated

Finally, now that all VM’s have been removed from the vDS Port group I can remove the vDS switch from my test environment.

If you like my ‘no-nonsense’ blog articles that get straight to the point… then post a comment or let me know… Else, I’ll start writing boring blog content.