Category Archives: vStuff

vCHS, Books & Puppet.

Oh yeah, I have a website. I completely forgot about that. Things have been going well at VMware. I am at the very heart of the vCHS build process putting together the compute, storage and networking components that make up the platform. I’ve passed my VCP-Cloud recently, which was nice and I’m now taking some time out whilst I prepare myself for VCAP mode. In the meantime I’ve been loading up on literature and my two most recent purchases have been the rather excellent Networking for VMware Administrators by Chris Wahl and Steven Pantol and the Official VCAP5-DCA book written by Steve Baca and John B Davis. They’re both out to buy now and if you’re serious about upping your game then these are my recommendations.

I’m also exploring Puppet. It’s no secret that we use Puppet at VMware to build our army of world dominating automatons servers and I decided that this was something I needed to explore further. Especially if I am to bring some kind of value to the team by working on vCHS. And also, because DevOps.

So like all good adventures I’m starting at the beginning, I’ve downloaded the Learn Puppet VM, enrolled in the course library and have started to understand my types, titles, attributes and values. It’s early days yet but my goal is to build a simple setup in Workstation comprising of VCSA, a couple of hosts and some kind of storage.

Once I’ve got my head around how I’m going to go about that I’ll post my findings. It should be fun and where better to learn about this kind of stuff than at VMware.

Happy days.

VMworld 2013 PHC5605-S – vCloud Hybrid Service

If you’re locked into VMworld Europe this year you’re probably aware that vCHS is being heavily promoted. This video is from session PHC5605-S and is presented by Mathew Lodge, Vice President of VMware vCloud Hybrid Service Business Unit and Christopher Rence, CIO of Digital River, one of VMware premier Early Access Program customers. If you’re looking for more info on vCHS and want to see some live demonstrations then this is something you’re going to want to watch.

vCloud / vCHS Announcements at VMworld Europe 2013

There’s some interesting bits coming out of VMworld Barcelona at the moment regarding the new VMware vCloud Hybrid Service. I’m a huge advocate of all things VMware but this particular service has me really excited as it’s something that just makes sense. If you’re already a VMware vSphere customer and you’re looking to expand, streamline or consolidate then this service really is a no-brainer. Hands down, this is the new IT-as-a-Service.

Remember P2V? Well say hello to V2C. Using the vCloud Connector you send your existing workloads up into the vCHS service into an already existing cloud node.


It really is that easy. As an example in my current employment we have a DR site. It’s basically a mish-mash of hardware that’s been swapped out with newer kit at our main site. Your DR site deserves the same level of attention as the main site. Except in our case it hasn’t had that same level and it’s now time to consider upgrading so that it can keep up with the required load. Our main site has in the region of 120+ VMs running on 8 hosts and our DR plan stipulates that we need to have in the region of 50 – 60 VMs of all shapes and sizes to keep the business running. Currently our DR site has 1 host of the same spec as the hosts at the main site. You don’t need to be a virtualisation expert to work out that if we bring up those VMs and allow the required number of staff to login then the load is going to go through the roof.

So instead of throwing money at upgrading the DR infrastructure, why not send it off to a vCHS solution? Let vCHS take the load. It’ll be manned by qualified VMware staff so we know it’ll be looked after and it’s one less thing for us to worry about.

This of course is just one simplified scenario and it’s one of many but it’s something that just makes sense.

Of course I’m a little biased and I’ll let you know why in a while 😉

If you want to know more about vCHS then hop on to twitter and follow @vCloud

VMware Workstation 10 & Fusion 6 now available


For those of us who use VMware Workstation at home for building those all important home labs and for building virtual environments at work this is good news. Workstation 1o and Fusion 6 for the fruit lovers have been released with some considerable tweaks and updates.

VMware Workstation 10 continues VMware’s tradition of delivering innovative features that technical professionals rely on every day. With support for Windows 8.1, tablet sensors, and expiring VMs, it’s the perfect tool to make your work seamless, intuitive, and more connected.

  • Unity mode has been enhanced to seamlessly work with Windows 8.1 UI changes.
  • Workstation 10 can now convert a Windows 8.1 physical PC to a virtual machine.
  • Support for 16 vCPUs, 8 TB SATA disks and 64GB of RAM
  • New Virtual SATA disk controller
  • Now supporting 20 virtual networks
  • USB3 streams support for faster file copying
  • Improved application and Windows VM startup times
  • SSD Pass through

VMware Fusion 6 is optimized for the latest Macs and ready for OS X Mavericks and Windows 8.1 to deliver the ultimate Windows on Mac experience.

  • Designed for OS X Mavericks
  • Mavericks multiple display support
  • Ready for Windows 8.1
  • Improved Boot Camp support
  • Optimized for the latest Macs
  • Dictation in Windows
  • Faster performance
  • Support for up to 16 vCPUs, 8TB disks and 64GB of RAM
  • Redesigned UI
  • More granular control of resources
  • Over 50 new features


Read more on what VMware Workstation can do for you and use these links to download the PC, Linux and Mac versions.

VCP-IaaS Learning Resources

There are a millions upon millions (maybe not that many) resources out there offering help and advice on how to study for your VCP-IaaS or VCP-Cloud and for my own personal sanity I’ve decided to list the ones I’m using at the moment for my VCP-IaaS study.

Having recently purchased an iPad mini I’m all over the eBooks and one of my recent purchases was the VMware VCloud Architecture Toolkit (vCAT) from Amazon from £8. This book contains validated VMware designs, tools, and best practices for architecting, implementing, operating, and using vCloud-based Infrastructure as a Service solutions. It’s essential for any vCloud administrator and has proved to be an invaluable resource so far.

Coming soon from VMware Press is the VCP-Cloud Official Cert Guide from VMware Press. It’s due out in October 2013 and like the other official cert guides will be following the blueprint helping you get a better understanding of what you’ll need to know to pass the exam.

Next up is Trainsignal. I’m already VCP certified so I only need to pass the VCP-IaaS exam and so I’m following David Davis excellent video series, VMware vCloud Director Essentials. It covers everything you need to know about installing, configuring and administering vCloud Director and if you’re getting a bit stuck on the networking aspect then this has some excellent videos designed to make things a little clearer.

David references a couple of blog posts when it comes to vCD networking. First up is, of course, Duncan Eppings always concise three part guide. It goes quite deep but is still easy to follow and has some handy diagrams to help you visualise things. Also on the Trainsignal video David mentions a very thorough walk through by Massimo called vCloud Networking for Dummies over on – highly recommended.

Next up is Kendrick Coleman’s guide to setting up vCloud networking from start to finish. This is without doubt one of the most complete guides out there and will take you through each step. Quite rightly, he states that if you can understand vCloud networking then the rest is pretty easy. I must admit I’ve managed to get my head around pretty much most of vCloud Director but it’s the networking causing me some hassles. Hopefully these guides will help you as much as they’ve helped me.

One other source I’ve come across recently is this 4 part guide written by David Hill on Virtual-blog. It’s in plain English and is one resource I’ve kept coming back to time and time again.

Of course, as awesome as these posts are they’ll serve you better if you have a lab built. Luckily for you that’s exactly what Chris Wahl can help you out with in this post over on YouTube:

VMware also has a handy 15 minute video on how to install vCloud Director 1.5:

And Marek Zdrojewski has a 20 part walk through on installing all aspects of vCloud over on his blog.

If it’s study notes you’re after then you’ll probably going to need Shane Williford‘s VCP-IaaS Study Notes PDF in your arsenal. I have this at hand and downloaded on the iPad and has proven to be yet another fantastic resource.

Oh and don’t forget the vBrownBag podcasts. They’re listed here:

And finally if you have an account with VMware’s Hands On Labs then there’s two labs you need to practice with. HOL-INF-06 will help you set-up an IAAS environment, using vCloud Director 5.1 and HOL-INF-07 will help you learn the fundamentals of software defined networking using vCloud Networking and Security. Both absolutely awesome labs.

So there you go. Whilst this isn’t an exhaustive list by any means it should help as a starting point for anyone looking to begin their VCP-IaaS study.

VSAN – A Closer Look

VMware announced VSAN yesterday at VMworld 2013 and this is exactly the kind of thing that is going to help businesses who are looking to replace or upgrade their storage with something a little more up to date. We are just that kind of business. Currently we’re running a Fujitsu DX90 S1 with absolutely no advanced features available whatsoever.

To give you some idea of how archaic this thing is I recently had to re-provision datastores after it was decided that the current mixture of datastore sizes just wasn’t cutting it. We had a mixture of 800GB, 1.2 and 1.6TB with RAID 5 and 1+0 storage and the goal was to increase these to RAID 6 2TB. The block sizes weren’t that much of a problem since 5.x doesn’t care what size they are but I had upgraded us from 4.x to 5.1 since starting work here and best practice is to blow the storage away and re-provision.

All in all the entire project took 10 days to complete if you factor in disruption and troubleshooting.

Now, it could be argued that we have suitable storage. Our VMs have somewhere to sit and it’s all shared across the hosts and everything can see everything else. But we have no features and maintenance is taking days rather than hours or minutes. We’re currently in the market for a new SAN and we’ve been shown demos from EMC, IBM and NetApp. The storage provisioning, DR and VMware integration is light years ahead of what we have (or not as the case may be) and obviously we’re going to be walking away from these things very impressed.

However, the one thing we’re not impressed with is the price. We’ve been quoted something around £60k for the VNX5300 and over £150k for the FS2240. The IBM came in around £40k.

This is where VSAN can swoop in and save the day. We’re in the middle of a tech refresh and we’re replacing our Sun servers (don’t ask) with Dell R710 and 720 rack mounted servers and we’ve bought these things with minimal disk configurations, 2 drives for the hypervisor. What VSAN means to us is we can now fill those servers up with SSDs and HDDs for a fraction of the price of one of those other SAN vendors.

So, VSAN is essentially pooled DAS or a single shared datastore presented to hosts that are part of a VSAN enabled cluster. This is nothing out of the normal scope of what you’ll probably have running anyway. You’ll already have a host cluster if you’re using HA and DRS and you might well have a datastore cluster if you’re using SDRS.

VSAN also does away with RAID and instead employs something called RAIN – Redundant Array of Independent Nodes (a node being a host). Redundancy and protection requires 3 hosts in the cluster and VM protection comes by way of replicas where the data is written to multiple nodes in the VSAN cluster. Protection was one of the questions I asked myself when I first read the announcement and Duncan Epping (as ever) has a plain English explanation and a high level illustration over on Yellow Bricks.

As for the the disk configuration you’ll need at least one SSD per server for write-through cache and this SSD does not contribute to the overall capacity – which isn’t much of a show stopper if you’ve got a 24 bay R720XD only utilizing 2 disks for the hypervisor install. And much like tiering, data is written to the SSD first then sent on to the HDDs. Reads from the VSAN are read via the the SSD, or from the HDD if the data isn’t available on the SSD.

This is pretty much a no brainer for us. Instead of throwing in excess of £60K on a physical SAN we can now instead buy a bunch of 900GB 15k drives and combine them into a VSAN. A tenth of the price at best.

And you’ll be even more impressed by the fact that VSAN is baked into vSphere 5.5 – no appliance required.

Happy Days.

The public beta is coming soon and sign ups are open here: and more info regarding VSAN can be found here:

VMware VMworld 2013 Day 1 Announcements

Unless you’ve had your head in the sand you probably know it’s the 10th annual VMworld and as usual it’s time to get your ear to the ground and check out the latest announcements.

Over on the VMworld Blog they’ve released the latest technologies coming out of this years conference on day 1 but in a nutshell they are:

The Software-Defined Data Center Today
VMware NSX
VMware Virtual SAN
VMware vCloud Suite 5.5 and VMware vSphere with Operations Management 5.5.
Delivering The Software Defined Data Center

For more information about what’s new in 5.5, Jason Nash has a write up here and Chis Wahl and Julian Wood both have a deeper description here and here.

There’s also a What’s New PDF up on the VMware site already: