My ramblings on the stuff that holds it all together
February 28, 2013Posted by on
yes, I have a rack in my home lab… they are usually free and easy to come-by if you have the means to transport them and I’ve had this one for a number of years – it has basic shelves inside and all my kit sits inside it reasonably tidily.
Here is a quick tip, get some magic whiteboard paper – like this – this stuff is great and it sticks to pretty much everything using static, no messy adhesive etc.
If you have a spare wall, or in my case a spare side of a rack – it works very well if you stick it to the side of the rack as shown below (the magnets shown in the pic aren’t actually required – it stays on all by itself).
November 13, 2012Posted by on
For the 2nd annual UK VMware User Group Conference this Thursday not only have we secured the cream of the crop of VMware, sponsor and community speakers (main agenda here) but we’re also running what I like to call (for lack of a better name) The Community Mezzanine
These sessions will be held on the Mezzanine level at the back of the sponsor solutions exchange area, we have very limited availability and access will be on a first-come-first-served basis. The current topics and sessions are as follows;
|BoF Discussion Group (8-10 people)||Scott Lowe||“How do i build a stretched cluster, and do I need one?”|
|BoF Discussion Group
|Simon Long||“VDI – Real world experiences”|
|BoF Discussion Group
|Scott Lowe/Mike Laverick||“How do you do disaster recovery, and what would you like to do?”|
|Darren Woollard||Come and join an interactive design white-boarding session, bring your ideas, questions and requirements.|
|Mock VCDX Panel
|Simon Gallagher||A chance to participate in a friendly format and dry-run your VCDX defence presentation in front of your peers, offer to defend for a chance to sit on the panel and become an unofficial mock VCDX panelist.|
(Drop-in hands-on format)
|Jon Medd, Alan Renouf, William Lam||Ever wondered how to automate something? PowerCLI and all things PowerShell, come and try and hands-on, informal drop-in where you can get some help, ask questions and try it out for yourself.
Staffed by the cream of the crop of automation specialists and authors (Lam, Renouf, Medd)
The timings for these sessions are currently as follows (we may need to make some adjustments on the day so check the board by the mezzanine area).
|10:00 – 10:45 am||
vSphere Design Whiteboard Session
|10:45 – 11:15 am||Break|
11:15 – 12:00 pm
|12:00 – 1:00 pm||Lunch|
|1:00pm – 1:45 pm||
vSphere Design Whiteboard session
Mock VCDX Defence Panel
|1:45 – 2:15 pm||Break|
2:15 – 3:00 pm
Mock VCDX Defence Panel (Cont.)
|3:00 – 3:15 pm||Break|
|3:15 – 4:00 pm||
Repeat of popular session
Repeat of popular session
|4:00 – 4:15 pm||Break|
Official registration is now closed for the event but we will be able to accommodate walk-in registrations if you are able to make it, hope to see you there, it’s going to be Epic!
November 6, 2012Posted by on
After some “fun” with UPS missed deliveries I have my 13” MacBook Pro with a Retina screen in my hands, this is a quick hands-on set of photos for anyone considering an upgrade.
My reasons for the upgrade were as follows;
- I replace my Mac’s annually – and they hold their 2nd hand value so well it’s cost-effective to do so (compared to HP, Dell etc.)
- I wanted the higher resolution screen, that is the only thing I didn’t like about my 2011 13” model
The only down-side is that I upgraded my 2011 model to 16Gb RAM (see this link) and the maximum in the 2012 model is 8Gb, upon reflection most of the lab VMs I now run live on my vTARDIS lab so I am less dependent on running large sets of VMs on my laptop, a MacBook Air doesn’t quite cut it for me in the amount of available storage and CPU but the 13” MBP is perfect.
Here are some side-by-side photos incase you were wondering what the difference is..
The 2012 model is slightly smaller in all dimensions..
Hope that is useful.
September 28, 2012Posted by on
As a freelance contractor you need to strike a careful balance between managing your own professional development, earning a living and delivering for your customers.
You don’t benefit from paid holidays or paid-for training courses during work hours from your employer and I also find it hard to schedule courses into downtime between engagements or slotting in a training course around customer demands for your 9-5 availability.
So, I was particularly interested to see today the mention of vFLEX-ILT Flexible instructor-led training from VMware and a partner. You can see a video at the following link, but the basic concept is that you “virtually” attend a real-life training class with what look to be excellent remote access tools and HD video conferencing, the modern world has come to training
You can see details of the courses and a demo video here:
This isn’t that new, some companies have been offering WebEx based training for a while but the inclusion of 2-way HD video is good and brings in some of the interactivity you would normally lose with remote access.
But, what particularly caught my eye is that the courses are delivered out of the US, opening the possibility that (with a bit of sacrifice of personal time and some double-shifting) you could feasibly do you your UK contract day-job but then virtually attend one of these classes in the evenings.
Courses that start at 9am Arizona time are towards the end of the UK day.
Cost-wise it isn’t too bad either – if you take the example of the View 5.1 install, configure, manage course (and assume that NC sales tax is similar to UK VAT – these prices are excluding tax)
Cost to attend virtually is currently £1,475 GBP + VAT @20% (note the cost to attend in-person in the US is the same as the virtual option, which I guess is understandable, they’re not buying you lunch – but they still need to pay for the trainer and your remote facilities).
The same in-person course delivered in the UK is between
So, if you are a contractor or paid by the hour/day outside of the US (and have good English skills) you could potentially use this technology and some of your personal time to save £500 over an in-person course and still be able to meet your day job commitments.
(Assuming you can keep up the pace of some short-term double-shifting, e.g doing a day-job then an evening course for 4 days) and still meet your customer’s requirements. Not a problem for many IT people in my experience.
September 21, 2012Posted by on
You may be familiar with my vTARDIS project; I’ve been trying for a long time to make this work on a Mac Mini that I have as that would be the most awesome home lab possible – it’s almost silent and is small enough to fit underneath your monitor (however large your monitor is )
I alluded to this in this previous post, but due to a bug the Mac Mini locked up on boot with ESX5 and there were no network drivers, with vSphere 5.1 and a little bit of frigging it finally works – it lives!
The network drivers don’t ship out of the box with ESX 5.1 but it no longer locks up on boot so you can get in and configure the IP address, kudos to this post on the VMware communities for finding the steps, which are summarized as;
- Download the NIC driver VIB for the Mac Mini (mine reports as MacMini4,1) is the server version with 8Gb and 2 x 500GB SATA drives.
- Customize your installation ISO with the driver VIB using this simple tool
- Install ESXi to a bootable USB drive (I used a 2GB Kingston flash drive) using Fusion
- create ESX5 VM in Fusion (or Workstation, principal is the same)
- attach customized ESX ISO to VM
- insert USB disk into laptop
- map USB drive to ESX VM
- boot VM from ISO file and install to USB stick when prompted
- Insert USB stick into Mac Mini
- Boot Mac Mini holding down alt key
- Select EFI boot when prompted
- ESX will boot
- set the management NIC and it’s IP address (or wait for it to get a DHCP address)
- You can now even install some nested ESX VMs on to it – see Williams post here which is more up to date than my vTARDIS pages for the required steps.
Ok, so it’s only got 8Gb of RAM, but this opens up all sorts of possibilities outside of nested ESX, because it’s Apple hardware you can install OS X as a VM (this is prevented on non-Apple hardware in ESX to comply with Apple’s licensing conditions).
Much more experimenting to come!
September 5, 2012Posted by on
The steering committee would like to invite proposals for community sessions at UK VMUG in November.
Due to the limited number of available community sessions we will need to short-list proposed sessions and we will notify you by the end of September if you have been short-listed, you’ll also be asked if you would like to have your session submitted for a future London VMUG event.
VMUG is a voluntary organisation for VMware users, vendor sponsorship covers the actual cost of the event, as such we’re not usually able to cover travel costs for speakers, but we can offer endless gratitude and recognition for your efforts and if accepted you’ll be automatically entered for our annual best community presentation awards (see
for last year’s winners).
VMware employees, sponsors and vendors are not eligible to submit community sessions unless you can clearly demonstrate that your content is independent of your company affiliation, potential sponsors should contact VMUG HQ for details (
For more information on the event, location and logistics etc. click this link for more information http://www.vmug.com/p/cm/ld/fid=212
You can submit your proposal by clicking HERE
August 28, 2012Posted by on
Anyone who attends the London VMUG will have been impressed by our very own chairman Alaric, who has been running the event for over 5 years – in his own typically humble words he’s “the tall bloke who bumbles around waving his hands at the start and end of the day” but without Alaric we wouldn’t have the VMUG we have today.
As an attendee you don’t always appreciate the hard work that goes into planning and arranging our quarterly meetings and especially the UK national event, it takes a lot of personal time and dedication, something Alaric has given freely over the years, and he has been appropriately awarded by the VMUG board of directors for his service to the VMUG.
Please join me in congratulating Alaric (and all the other VMUG leader award winners).
August 27, 2012Posted by on
VMware announced today that it was undoing the vRAM based licensing it announced to much boo’ing last year and will revert to the original per-CPU model (without the core limitations), I had hoped that vRAM was an intermediary step to pure per-VM licensing to help people (and the industry/channel) over the hump to move from legacy to something more radical – it would seem this will not be the case for the forseeable future.
Whilst I admire VMware for listening to customers that complained about vRAM changes and judging by the applause in the room when incoming CEO Gelsinger made the announcement you’ll probably not agree with me but I think this is a backward step given the stated vision for building cloud infrastructure. In my humble opinion they should have dispensed entirely with per-host, per-socket or even standard/enterprise/enterprise plus editions and bundles and focused purely on a per-VM (or vApp/Group of VMs) feature license. crazy? moi? maybe – but let me state my case…
Cloud is all about dynamic workloads, rapid provisioning and self-service, not being tied into X capacity or capability which has to be paid for up-front, in advance just incase you might need to use it one day – it’s about pay as you go – pay for what you use; it means you can’t take too many risks, or be too innovative because you need to sink significant cost upfront to make things happen or go to established clouds like Amazon, Azure, google etc. where someone has already taken that risk.
I’ve previously written about the need for the software industry to move away from legacy perpetual licensing models and move to a rental/subscription based model with lower cost of entry – allowing real flexibility to scale up and down, and allow businesses to attribute true cost to service lines or business units before the fact, rather than after.
Why not set a lower unit cost for vSphere per-VM but let consumers buy premium vSphere features and add-on products (like SRM, vCenter Ops, etc.) a la carte? on a PER VM basis then people can buy commodity hardware as and when they need it – without having to absorb large chunks of software license costs per physical asset, this is a good way of removing the cost barrier for small organizations (that may have them looking at Microsoft or other solutions and reduces the risk/uncertainty in planning implementation – pay for what you use (or license what you think you’ll need).
By way of a very simplistic example – with some dummy costs to illustrate the point is below
There is a base license to use (LTU) cost – which is per VM, regardless of how many ESX hosts, clusters, sites, datacenters it runs on, so you merely specify on a monthly/quarterly/annual basis how many VMs you are running – or have vSphere report the number (this is how it works for VMware’s service provider licensing – VSPP).
So the per-VM cost is built up in layers – base and premium functionality, pay for what you need, pay for what you use – don’t be tied into bundles, editions and planning for changes that may never come – easy to step up and down in levels of functionality for individual vApps (or even individual VMs).
Depending on how it’s implemented this may need some changes to the product to facilitate – maybe it’s not a hard block that you cannot enable a feature, but vCenter will report that vApp 1,3 and Test 1 are out of compliance with your licensing (think host-profiles) and give you a click-through option to uplift your VMware licensing rental agreement, or even disable the functionality for offending vApps.
Hardware is cheap and commodity but slow to procure and has a traditional manufacturing/distribution chain behind it, you can’t generally sell it back or scale it down.
Software is relatively expensive but quick to procure and implement (automatable, even in terms of the software defined datacenter)
Neither are particularly flexible today with legacy sales, channel and distribution infrastructures that underpin a massive workforce in VARs, SI companies etc.
It’s hard for hardware vendors to price and sell their products on a flexible basis (they have to cover cost of design/manufacturing for a physical asset (although I’ve previously written that I think this is where VCE should have focused here instead of becoming just a reseller/SI)
Software vendors can do much better to clean up here today as they are less-burdened with a traditional manufacturing and distribution chain – whilst they obviously have shareholders to satisfy and costs to cover they can be much more innovative with how they sell and distribute their products – taking a longer vision and more incremental revenue (maybe less satisfying to shareholders and analysts, but..)
In the cloud (especially so in the private cloud) Workload is important, not infrastructure; and cost should be attributed accordingly.
None of this will change overnight – but I do believe this is a better model for the future – feel free to disagree (constructively) in the comments!
June 26, 2012Posted by on
As you may have seen the next London VMware User Group meeting is on 19th July 2012 and is open for registration at this link.
We (the committee) are delighted that VMware will be presenting a roadmap NDA session at our meeting. It is a unique opportunity to discover what is coming from VMware in the future and a first for us!
However, as we’re privileged to have this session we have to abide by some very stringent rules and we hope you understand if you are refused entry to this session. For those that don’t meet the criteria to attend, we will have VMware experts on hand in the Thames Suite, where are sponsors are located, to meet and discuss any topics you wish to chat about. As a reminder, the entry criteria is:
• Signed, personal NDA
• Photo ID and proof of where you work
• Not working for a vendor
• Not working for a partner
• Not working for a competitor
We are really looking forward to the whole day, the agenda is another great one and has a storage bias to it, which is actually totally unintentional
See you in July!
Your London VMUG Steering Committee
April 21, 2012Posted by on
I’m sitting Thomas Lee’s PowerCamp espresso-powered PowerShell course this weekend – highly recommended, see my previous post.
I didn’t know this, being a POSH newbue, but there is a free, built-in PowerShell IDE, editor that ships with Windows Server 2008 R2, so for my labs I tend to install PowerGUI to bodge together some scripts.
Two lines of POSH and you can install the editor from PowerShell rather than struggling with notepad.
It’s quite functional, and does the job and it’s free/built-in.
There are other commercial editors if you need to do this on a more regular basis from your own workstation.