Posted in Technology

Configuring a Cheaper vSAN ReadyNode (2)

In the part 1 of this post, I talked about a cheaper alternative to buying vSANReady nodes which is to configure the system nodes by using the vSAN compatibility guide. I also showed the cost comparison of buying a vSANReady node from an OEM (in this case DELL/EMC) and configuring it from DELL/EMC’s website.

In this post, I will be sharing a much cheaper alternative to brand new servers and that’s certified refurbished servers. I know, I know most folks would squirm at this idea. However, you should be good as long as you do the necessary research, purchase maintenance packages and ensure that the vendor provides certified refurbished servers from the manufacturer.

Disclaimer: The use of refurbished servers in a production environment is a personal decision and you need to properly weigh the risks involved. I am not by this post recommending its use in production environments. I however think it is perfectly okay to use in a test environment.

Now, that we have the disclaimer out of the way, let’s go back to refurbished servers. There are certain things you need to do before you take the leap to buy refurbished servers. There’s a post on Spiceworks that covers how to reduce your risk when buying refurbished servers. You should check it out and ensure you have made the necessary considerations before selecting the vendor.

One vendor I have used multiple times is ServerMonkey and these are reasons I like and still use them;

  • Cheaper prices
  • Wide range of OEMs (Dell servers, storage & switches, HP, Juniper, Cisco)
  • Clean devices (almost no scratches)
  • Great support with next business day delivery. They don’t waste your time troubleshooting a failed component. They simply FedEx or DHL a replacement part
  • Friendly team

From ServerMonkey webpage you can browser their products and select the make and model of the device you want and then build it to your desired specification. Below is how to perform the configuration task.

This next image shows the cost of building the system. A total of $70,660.00 for a four node system. Compare that with $220,292.00 when building from Dell.com and $245,632.24 when buying a vSANReady node from an OEM.

This is a significant discount. Almost 4 times cheaper.

So, there you have it, purchasing a refurbished server and using it to buying your vSAN cluster by utilizing the vSAN compatibility guide may just help you slash your vSAN budget.

See you in the next one…

Posted in Technology

Configuring a Cheaper vSAN ReadyNode

vSAN ReadyNodes are great. They provide OEM (original equipment manufacturer e.g HP, Dell/EMC and Supermicro) device(s) that have been certified to run VMware vSAN. vSAN ReadyNodes provide the most flexible server options to build Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) environments that are based on VMware vSAN.

Using vSAN ReadyNodes also makes it very easy to build an SDDC environment without spending too much time thinking about how the different components work together. But, this is as long as your budget is large enough to hand it.

Living and working in a developing country where the exchange rate is very volatile, we don’t have the luxury to afford such high-end devices. As I write this, the current exchange rate is 498 times my country’s currency. Four hundred and ninety-eight times. Yea, I said it again for emphasis.

Before we go further, here’s the link to the vSAN compatibility guide. I’ll reference it in a bit. The guide description is as follows;

The purpose of this document is to provide VMware® vSAN ReadyNode™ configurations from OEM vendors.
vSAN ReadyNode™ is a validated server configuration in a tested, certified hardware form factor for vSAN deployment, jointly recommended by the server OEM and VMware. vSAN ReadyNode™ are ideal as hyper-converged building blocks for larger data centre environments looking for automation and a need to customize hardware and software configurations

Thankfully, the vSAN ReadyNode list is just a guide. Just like with VMware’s HCL (hardware compatibility list), the devices and components that make the list are VMware’s recommendations which have been tested and certified. It does not necessarily mean that every single aspect must be exactly the same.

As an example, let’s take a look at the AF-8-DELLEMC-R640. This is an all-flash vSAN ReadyNode by DELL/EMC that utilizes the PowerEdge R640 servers. Below, is a screenshot from the compatibility guide. From there, you can see that the guide contains all the components of the node including the system, CPU type and quantity, memory modules and quantity, disk drives and so many other details.

From vsansizer.vmware.com, we can see some other details of this node.

And calculate the capacity and memory distribution per server

If I was to buy this node, it would cost about $61,408.06 per node (this is according to the price I received from a distributor a few months ago). Since we have four nodes in this system, the total cost would be $245,632.24. This is a lot especially when I convert it to my local currency (times 498).

As I alluded to earlier, to reduce this cost, we could pick up the compatibility guide, go to the Dell website and build the node selecting the exact accessories and components that are listed in the guide.

This is what I’ve done and shown in the screenshot above. The four-node system costs $138,302.18. Compare this with the previous amount of $245,632.24. Granted, Dell offers a total savings of $81,989.82 but even if they didn’t the total amount would be $220,292.00 which is still $25,340.24 cheaper than the vSAN ReadyNode.

You can download the full specifications of what I built below to compare these specifications yourself.

Let me know your thoughts down in the comment section and I’ll see you in the next one

Disclaimer: It is recommended that you use and purchase a vSAN ReadyNode from an OEM for production environments. The steps above are not recommended officially and should be used at your own risk.

Posted in Life, Technology

Finding my path as a Solutions Architect

Introduction

Somehow, I like to start with definitions cos I feel someone reading may not know what I’m speaking about or may not understand.

So, the first term I’m defining is Solutions Architect. In simple terms, a solutions architect is a problem solver. one way to think about this role is to look at the second part of the phrase – Architect. An architect is a builder. He/She sees an end result in his/her mind’s eyes and work with the civil engineers and other construction workers to bring that vision/dream to light. A solution Architect does the exact same thing with solving problems by using IT technology.

Now, because a solution architect uses technology to solve problems, they need to understand the foundations and basics of that technology (Information Technology in this case). This is why great solution architects were once hard core engineers who had gotten their hands dirty in implimenting technology solutions.

My Begining

This brings me to how I started my career in IT. My journey started around 18 years ago 2003. I was in my second or third year in my bachelor’s degree for the Electrical and Computer Engineering course.

At the time I knew almost nothing about IT or computers. Those days we had mostly desktop computers and I didn’t have one. Windows ME & Windows 2000 were the most popular OSes at the time. There was also Ubuntu 6 or so (I can’t remember the first version I installed). They used to ship the disks then.

A friend and neighbor gave me his desktop computer and that’s what got me hooked. He gave me one advise then which I have cherished till today and have told others I mentor – “use it, break it and fix it”. I did break the PC several times and he was always available to help me whenever I escalated to him.

Because of my inquisitive nature, I remember he used to call me Doctor Q. Q was for questions not quantum. Even though quantum would have been a very cool superhero name 😁. I had been very curious even as a young boy. I always felt ever problem had a solution even in play.

Curiousity – the key to architecting

Fast forward many year into the future, my curiousity had grown especially in technology. I took my first certification in 2007. This was the CompTIA Network +. I felt then that networking was the foundation so that influenced my decision to do this exam. I had to convince my mum then to help with the funds for this. I’m so glad she did. Thanks mum!

I think curiosity is everything. It’s the underlying motivation to learn. It’s a characteristic where you acknowledge you don’t know everything and perhaps there are better ways to do things. I’m always nervous about people who aren’t curious about anything in the world. – Simon Sinek

The reason why I believe curiousity is the key to architecting is because this character compels my mind to see things where others may not and especially to see solutions to problems around me that others may miss. In my head, I’m constantly asking why. I am constantly questioning whether a current solution is the best. Sometimes, this means I question a solution I had already worked on. (Sometimes I mistake this habit or character for perfectionism)

As I bring this post to a close, my advise for upcoming Architects is to cultivate a curious mind. Remember that every problem has a solution. Don’t give up when you hit several brick walls. The walls will eventually break down and you’ll be delighted to see that your persistence paid off.

It also feels very good to see a solution born out of your persistence and to see that you, yes, you! can come up with a solution to what was once a problem folks struggled with.

One last quote from Aaron Swartz.

Be curious. Read widely. Try new things. What people call intelligence just boils down to curiosity.

Posted in Business, Technology

Acquisitions, I love them – Pluralsight/ACG/Linux Academy

I’m not sure why but I have always been fascinated about mergers and acquisitions. I guess the fact that someone or a group of people can sit down with an idea, turn that into a “living organism” and increase its value to the point that it is valuable enough for someone else to acquire.

I had living organism above in parenthesis because I think an organization is a type of living organism or at least it should be. A quick Google search defines an Organism as a living thing (organizations have a birth date which is the certificate of incorporation and a death date which is the day they file for bankruptcy) that has an organized structure (organizations have a structure; departments, units, processes…etc), can react to stimuli (stimulus is something that rouses or incites to activity. Organisations react to external and internal stimulus), reproduce (this is where you have the concept of parent and child companies or subsidiaries), grow (organizations grow in revenue, assets and employee base), adapt (to survive, organizations need to adapt to changes in laws, market trends and their environment), and maintain homeostasis (so, this is a big word that refers to the property of cells, tissues, and organisms that allows the maintenance and regulation of the stability and constancy needed to function properly. I would say the leadership and management of most organizations perform this function by ensuring stability and constancy of the organization and its processes).

Earlier on, I also said “valuable enough for someone else to acquire”. Now, I’m aware that there are a ton of other reasons acquisitions happen including, diversification, growth/spread and to silence the competition. In this post, I’m focusing on the value the acquired company has developed.

In the news today, I read that A Cloud Guru (ACG) has come to an agreement to be acquired by Pluralsight. Both companies are known for their online learning platforms especially for IT trainings and courses. I’ve known Pluralsight longer than ACG. In fact, I only knew about ACG from a recent acquisition. I’ll talk about this next.

For me, one interesting thing about this acquisition is the fact that ACG acquired Linux Academy a little over a year ago (December 2019). I’ve known Linux Academy longer than ACG. They have been around since 2012 and provided over 200 self-paced courses and 1,000 Hands-On Labs.

Pluralsight on the other hand has been around since 2004. So the trend is the older company acquires the younger company, ACG founded in 2015. ACG, an older company acquires a younger company, Linux Academy founded in 2012 🙂.

In fact,while writing this post, I did a little research and found out that Pluralsight has been on an acquisition spree. Exciting, the plot thickens. 😁

According to Tracxn Technologies, Pluralsight has made 7 acquisitions and 2 investments. The company has spent over $ 326M for the acquisitions which include TrainSignal, PeepCode, Digital-Tutors, Smarterer, GitPrime, Train Simple and HackHands.

Besides the companies they have been acquiring in the past few years, Pluralsight themselves were acquired this year (2021) by Vista Equity Partners (“Vista”) for $22.50 per share.

A truly interesting story. I hope you’re excited as I have been reading about these acquisitions.

See you in the next one…

Posted in VMUG

VMUG June Virtual Connect! (Update)

As a follow-up to one of my last posts on the June VMUG virtual connect event (I hope you’ve all registered), I got a VMUG communication today via email with the title – “Announcing Raghu Raghuram, NEW VMware CEO – ONLY at the 2021 Virtual Connect!” and I was excited. Why? Well, because I had followed the last CEO and I loved all he had done for VMware in the last few years. Sometimes I have to remind myself that there were other CEOs before him and he didn’t start the company. Pat was great and embodying the EPIC2 values and I personally felt the impact of this continent’s away.

Nevertheless, I am also excited to hear from Raghu. A lot of people I know and respect has talked about his passion and how he has successfully steered the company’s strategy and technology evolution across VMware’s rich history.

So, remember the date is the 10th of June. Be sure to register and save it in your calendar. It promises to be a blast.

Posted in Technology

vSphere Mobile Client – New Features

I’ve been using the vSphere mobile client for a while now. I found out about it from a colleague and installed it about a year ago. It has been a convenient way to access my vSphere environment directly from my mobile device. Especially because there are some days where getting to your laptop is almost impossible.

The app is freely available for download from the Google Play Store and the iOS App Store. VMware has recently released an update for this app and its got some new stuff. One of which is a feature which allows the users to choose to connect to both On-Premises and VMware Cloud deployment.

Other features of the mobile app includes the ability to interact with the virtual machine console (where the live console is shown) and explore hosts and clusters. You can get information about a host’s connection status or maintenance mode status. You can see the list of hosts, in each host card and you can find details like resource usage, issues indicator, related objects with or without issues.

For more details of these new features and more, check out the full post here. (FYI, the GIFs above were gotten from here)

Posted in VMUG

VMUG June Virtual Connect!

Over the past few months I’ve attended a lot of VMUG events. It started during the pandemic and I still try to attend these events now although its a bit difficult with my schedule.

The June Virtual Connect holding on the 10th of June is one I don’t want to miss and you shouldn’t either. Why? Cos it will be featuring a guest from Star Trek. If any one doesn’t know what that is, then “Google is your Friend”.

This guest from Star Trek who will be chairing the event is a director, producer, and actor best known for his portrayal of Commander William Riker on “Star Trek: The Next Generation”Jonathan Frakes. He will be the emcee for the event which will include amazing technical content from some of the most trusted partners in the industry. It’s a one-day, FREE event that you can attend right from your home office.

Here’s the link to register for the event. See you online.

Posted in Technology

Critical Security Advisory – VMSA-2021-0010

Well, like the post title states, this is a critical security advisor and it needs immediate attention for anyone using vCenter Server. This means stop whatever else you’re doing and get this done. But you can keep reading to get more details then go apply the fix immediately.

The products impacted by this vulnerability include;

  1. VMware vCenter Server (vCenter Server)
  2. VMware Cloud Foundation (Cloud Foundation

This advisory ID contains two vulnerabilities, CVE-2021-21985 & CVE-2021-21986. VMware has evaluated the severity of this issue to be in the Critical severity range with a maximum CVSSv3 base score of 9.8 and in the Moderate severity range with a maximum CVSSv3 base score of 6.5 respectively.

You can check out the original advisory located here and also sign up for Security Advisories by entering your email address on this page – https://www.vmware.com/security/advisories.html. (see screenshot below)

Without wasting much time here, Bob Plankers has detailed everything you need to know about this vulnerability. His post talks about who is affected, when you need to do something about the vulnerability, why you are affected, what you should do to protect your self and tips for patching.

Posted in Technology

Making the switch from NSX-v to NSX-T

NSX-V has been around for a while and has powered a lot of software defined and cloud environments. If you are VMware cloud provider and are still using NSX-V, you should make the switch and this is why.

First, an intro for those who are not familiar with VMware NSX, NSX is VMware’s Network Virtualization solution. It allows you to build software-defined networks in virtualized datacenters that are abstracted or separate from the physical networks. This means that you can create virtual networks including switches, ports, routers, and firewalls all in software having it run over your physical network devices, any physical network device.

VMware NSX comes in two flavors, NSX-V and NSX-T. NSX-V is typically called NSX for “vSphere” and is the first version that has been around for years. It was designed for on-premise VMware vSphere deployments such that a single NSX-V manager is associated with or tied to a single vCenter Server instance.

NSX-T is the second type of platform and is typically called NSX “Transformers”. (yea, cool name). It was released and designed to address the deployment models that NSX-V could not fix and features an agile software-defined platform for building cloud-native application environments. Unlike its predecessor, NSX-T is built to handle multi-hypervisors, cloud, containers, and bare metal server environments and incorporates agents to perform microsegmentation on non-VMware platforms.

NSX-T Anywhere Architecture – Source: NSX-T Reference Design Guide 3-0.pdf

As shown in the figure above, the NSX-T architecture is designed around four fundamental attributes that span from any site, to any cloud, and to any endpoint device. This enables greater decoupling, not just at the infrastructure level (e.g., hardware, hypervisor), but also at the public cloud (e.g., AWS, Azure) and container level (e.g., K8, Pivotal); all while maintaining the four key attributes of platform implemented across the domains.

For VMware Cloud Providers, VMware has released a migration tool – VMware NSX Migration for VMware Cloud Director 1.2.1. This tool helps providers running a VMware Cloud Director environment to migrate NSX Data Center for vSphere (NSX-V) to NSX-T Data Center. The tool is an external automation tool that initiates and completes the migration process with minimum downtime.

Check out this VMware blog for more features of this tool and the considerations you need to make before proceeding. It was written by Romain Decker, a Staff Technical Product Manager within the Cloud Services Business Unit (CSBU) at VMware.

In addition, there’s an older 24-page white paper also by VMware that details several ways to migrate from NSX-V to NSX-T. The white paper looks at various approaches available for migration and also focuses on Migration Coordinator, a tool built into NSX-T that simplifies in-place upgrade of NSX-V based infrastructure to NSX-T.

Posted in Uncategorized

vExpert 2021 Second Half Applications (fingers crossed)

I wrote in one of my earlier blogs about how my vExpert application got denied. You can read it up here.

For those who don’t know, the VMware vExpert program is VMware’s global evangelism and advocacy program. Its basically an honorary title that VMware grants to outstanding advocates of the company’s products.

So, the applications for the second half of the 2021 vExpert program will be open on June 7th, 2021. I’ve already set a reminder to apply again. Fingers crossed that I’ll get it this time. You can read more about this half of the applications on VMware Blogs here.

If you’re interested, check out the vExpert Application portal at https://vexpert.vmware.com/. The criteria is;

If you are interested in becoming a vExpert the criteria is simple. We are looking for IT Professionals who are sharing their VMware knowledge and contributing that back to the community. The term “giving back” is defined as going above and beyond your day job. There are several ways to share your knowledge and engage with the community. Some of those activities are blogging, book authoring, magazine articles, CloudCred task writing, active in Facebook groups, forum (VMTN as well as other non VMware) platforms, public speaking, VMUG leadership, videos and so on.

Posted in Technology

ESXi on SD Cards no longer supported

One of the clusters in our environment contains Dell PowerEdge R730 servers. We recently noticed that a few hosts were failing and throwing up an error during the bootup process. One common thing about these hosts was that we had ESXi installed on the internal SD modules. Rebooting the server results in an error message and reinstalling the OS on the SD card still gives the same error.

This is a known issue with ESXi 7.0 installations on SD cards. One Reddit user gave the explanation that “The new partition layout in esxi 7.0 has more writes and the writes aren’t throttled anymore like in earlier releases, therefore VMware also recommends not to use sd cards anymore.”

The official information from VMware on this issue is located in this KB. The issue is triggered by a VMFS-L Locker partition corruption on SD cards in ESXi 7.0.

As of 7.0 Update 1, the format of the ESX-OSData boot data partition has been changed. Instead of using FAT it is using a new format called VMFS-L. This new format allows much more and faster I/O to the partition. This ESX-OSData partition is where frequent data is written and combines the product locker and scratch log partitions which were used in previous versions of ESXi. This partition is more commonly seen as the /scratch partition. 

VMware has listed one of the main reasons why the /scratch partition fails on ESXi 7.0 as

The level of read and write traffic is overwhelming and corrupting many less capable SD cards.

Finally, as a workaround, the KB says;

The version 7.0 Update 2 VMware ESXi Installation and Setup Guide, page 12, specifically says that the ESX-OSData partition “must be created on high-endurance storage devices”.

Another workaround is (this is actually the only workaround that worked for us);

Once the new drive is installed, and ESXi has been reinstalled, you can immediately move the /scratch partition to a location not on the boot drive, per directions in System logs are stored on non-persistent storage

Posted in Technology

Using Virtual Appliances in your Home Lab

As part of my learning and development processes, I typically have to set up a home lab environment to test out the new technology. I’ve found out that the fastest way to learn something new is to build it yourself. I guess the lessons stick harder.

Most of the lab environments I’ve built are VMware-based. I build nested ESXi hosts as virtual machines in VMware Workstation or Virtualbox (for some reason this does not slow down my host laptop as much). The last lab environment I built was when I was preparing for the VCAP-DCV Deploy exam. I will write about my exam experience in one of my next blogs.

Anyway, when building nested ESXi hosts, I have found a really easy way of cutting down the provisioning time is to use nested ESXi virtual appliances. A virtual appliance is a pre-configured virtual machine image, ready to run on a hypervisor. Or in my case a guest operating system. William Lam has been creating these appliances for years. I think since ESXi 5.5. You can check out his collection here. I’ve found them to be pretty reliable.

Posted in Exam Preps, Technology

5V0-32.19 exam preparation

I am planning to take the VMware Cloud Provider Specialist Exam before the end of June (that’s when the voucher I bought will be expiring). I’ve had my eye on this exam for a year but have not really had time to really prepare.

I had started out by registering for the VMware vCloud Director: Install, Configure, Manage [V9.x] course a while ago (2019, I believe). It was a five-day course that was focused on installing, configuring, and managing VMware vCloud Director. It covered self-service provisioning, the creation of organizations, virtual data centers (VDCs), catalog services that include predefined virtual machines, and on-demand VMware NSX networks.

Unfortunately, I was heavily distracted when taking this course and must have skipped through a lot of the modules. I was however, able to download a few modules and will be going through them as I prepare.

I am also going through the VMware Cloud Director Fundamentals [V8.x]. This is a self-paced, free fundamentals course. It covers an overview of cloud computing and explains the solutions offered by VMware for cloud computing. In addition, the course introduces the architecture, components, and installation, and configuration of vCloud Director. Finally, it touches on the administrative and end-user tasks and network administration in vCloud Director.

For labs, I am looking at probably building an environment on my old laptop but the speed is driving me nuts. I am also considering building an SDDC environment using the free tier on Oracle Cloud. If that doesn’t work, I am thinking of going through a few of these hands on labs;

Oh yes, another important thing to go through for this exam is the exam blueprint. Actually, that should be the first thing to go check out. I didn’t mention it earlier cos I think the course already covered the different sections

I’ll post some more on this blog when I have some more updates so be sure to check back again.

See you in the next one…

Posted in Technology

VMware-based SDDC on Oracle Cloud

With the era of multi-cloud here, there has been a lot of synergy/partnerships between major cloud providers (public). Late last year, Oracle announced an Oracle Cloud VMware Solution (OCVS). For those who don’t know, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) is an IaaS platform that delivers on-premises, high-performance computing power to run cloud-native and enterprise infrastructures.

OCI has actually built a formidable platform. As of writing this, OCI has 29 regions across multiple continents (except Africa :-(. Although, a new region is planned in Johannesburg).

OCI Region Map

You can read more about the OCI regions here.

OCVS combines the power of VMware SDDC with Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, allowing customers to leverage the best in Public Cloud Infrastructure and the best in Compute, Storage and Network Virtualization. The Solution provides customers with the ability to deploy a VMware environment with vSphere, NSX-T and vSAN installed with the relevant management stack which comprises vCenter and NSX Manager.

According to the OracleHelp Center, Oracle Cloud VMware Solution gives you a fully automated implementation of a VMware software-defined data center (SDDC) within your own Oracle Cloud Infrastructure tenancy, running on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure bare metal instances, that contains the following VMware components:

  • VMware vSphere ESXi
  • VMware vSAN
  • VMware vCenter
  • VMware NSX-T
  • VMware HCX (optional)

The following image illustrates how these VMware components work within the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure environment.

Description of oracle_cloud_vmware_solution_architecture.png follows

You can read more about the Oracle Cloud VMware Solution here and here

Posted in Technology

The Basics of Design (Part 1)

I’ve been doing design for a large part of my career and I’m not just referring to IT designs as a solutions architect.

I think my earliest memory on design was from my secondary school days. I remember building a model airplane using plastic from a household cleaning product (Vim). I started out that project by making a sketch of what I wanted the plan to look like. I think I had planned for it to have wings similar to an F-14.

In my earlier blog on 3V0-624 Preparation & Exam Experience, I mentioned that one of the things you have to learn for the exam is the basics of design. This involves the conceptual, logical and physical design.

When I first started my career in IT and had the opportunity to design a solution for a customer, I used to make the mistake of only creating a physical design or one design that covers but physical and conceptual. The VCAP design exam handles the design concepts very beautifully and I think I appreciated it more because I had done things the wrong way and this way was so much better allowing me to avoid so many issues.

For starters each aspect of the design should be signed off by the customer before proceeding to the next design. This means the customer must approve that they understand and agree with the design before the architect proceeds to the next phase.

Conceptual Design

This is the first phase and involves representing the ideas behind the solution to the problem at hand. This design comes first and follows a meeting with the customer to gather information of what their perspective is. It is where the architect tries to represent the business drivers (inputs and activities that drive business results) and constraints (decision points that have already been made and cannot be changed or what the design must have/include).

Below is a sample of what a conceptual design may look like. Some architects initially scribble this design on a paper.

Conceptual Design – P2V Conversation & Server Consolidation

The above conceptual design was something I prepared years ago to represent a customer’s requirement to convert their physical server to a virtual one. This was the first phase of their requirement.

Along with this design is categorizing the information the architect must have gathered from the first meeting into requirements, constraints, assumptions, and risks categories.

So, if I were to use the above customer scenario;

Requirements:
Applications running on physical server must be virtualized

Constraints:
The existing physical server must be utilized in the design. Meaning I must install ESXi on it. This is a constraint cos it forces me to use the server even though it may not be compatible

Risks:
There are no IT personnel in the current branch to manage infrastructure once deployed

Assumptions:
All datacenter infrastructure has already been put in place by the organization

Posted in Technology

Time to Empower (2021)

It’s that time of the year again. Time to Empower yourself, network with your peers in the IT industry, gain some relevant skills and rub minds with experts in whatever technology field you are interested in.

VMware EMPOWER is an annual partner conference which delivers the same content to partners that was originally developed for VMware’s very own internal sales and technical teams.

EMPOWER is focused on partner enablement, training, accreditations, certifications, strategies and sales tools for VMware partners in both technical and sales roles.

As a result of the pandemic, most events have been moved online and this is no different. The link to register is here.

One of the exciting things for me is a chance to win some freebies especially exam vouchers. I was lucky enough to win two free vouchers last year from attending the Empower and VMworld. Those vouchers got me my VCIX-DCV and I didn’t have to pay the whooping $450 for each exam. So, it’s definitely worth attending.

This year’s solution areas include:

App Modernization – Build new cloud-native apps, modernize existing apps, and operate infrastructure that serves them all across any cloud.


Multi-Cloud – Consistently manage and govern your environment across public, private and hybrid clouds.


Anywhere Workspace – Make it easy for employees to work anywhere, anytime, on any device, without compromising security.


Virtual Cloud Network – Connect and secure apps and data, regardless of where they run, from the data center to the cloud to the edge.


Intrinsic Security – Leverage your infrastructure and control points in new ways to protect apps and data from endpoint to cloud.

What else is there to say – make sure you register and I hope I see you online.

Posted in Business

Parenting & Business Units

The title of this post already gives an idea of my thought process. Over the years, I’ve been involved in setting up and running a few start ups/business units and I currently work for a organisation that has spun up a number of business units that will push out new products into the market

There is a lot of fear and uncertainty in launching a new idea into the deep which common with this terrain. One of such fears comes with how to allocate resources from the parent organisation to its subsidiaries.

I usually like to use the analogy of parenting to describe how I feel this challenge should be tackled.

As a parent, I nuture my children from birth to adulthood. While they are with me and under my roof, I fend for them, feed them and handle all their bills. I also help them to find their footing, I guide their dreams and I provide direction and advise. Once they come of age, I will need to step back and let them stand on their own. At that time, most (if not all) the support is removed for two reasons – the first, is that I want them to no longer feel the need to rely on me. The second reason is that I wasn’t them to grow strong enough and possibly rise better than I ever did.

Now let’s juxtapose this idea of parenting unto the parent company and the subsidiary. I believe the same should be the case. Businesses should not start up a subsidiary and expect that small/weak company to somehow support the larger organisation. That would be an unfair expectation.

Rather, the parent organisation should for a limited time support and handle the bills of the child company up and until a time when that child company can support itself and can stand on its own.

Sadly, when this is not done, in most cases it leads to the death of those subsidiaries. I’ve seen a lot of these in the industry in recent years.

Obviously, starting up a subsidiary or spinning up a new business unit is not as simplistic. In fact, it’s one of the most complex aspects of a business and there are many, many things to consider and set in place for success.

Posted in Technology

Why every design should include VMware vSAN

vSAN is VMware’s enterprise-class storage virtualization solution. In other words, it is a virtual storage solution. If you’re familiar with server virtualization, this concept of virtual storage is easy to understand.

Intro

So, let’s start with a quick introduction to virtualization. Virtualization in simple terms refers to the process of creating software copies of a server/computer’s physical resources. Physical resources here refers to memory, CPU, storage and networking.

Enter vSAN

Now that you have an understanding of server virtualization. You can understand storage virtualization as a process of replacing the physical components of a typical storage with a distributed software based storage system.

VMware’s official definition is;

vSAN is enterprise-class, storage virtualization software that, when combined with vSphere, allows you to manage compute and storage with a single platform. With vSAN, you can reduce the cost and complexity of traditional storage and take the easiest path to future ready hyperconverged infrastructure and hybrid cloud. Evolve to an integrated hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) solution with vSAN to improve business agility, all while speeding operations and lowering costs.

One of the main benefits for me of using vSAN over a traditional storage array is the fact that it provides a greater redundancy than your traditional storage. In essence, vSAN gets rid of the dreadful SPOF which beseeches every design. SPOF stands for Single Point of Failure. Eliminating single points of failures is a key design requirement because a single point of failure in an infrastructure could render the entire platform unavailable. I’ve experienced this and its painful 🙁

Posted in Life

There is a string

When I listen to some amazing songs like Casting Crowns, One Awkward Moment, I can’t help but wonder how these artists were able to write words and compose melodies to go with those words.

Did Mark Hall know his words and songs would speak to someone on the other side of the planet? Or is it just one big coincidence.

Is man made of the same stuff that allows a single cord to run through us all?

Or is it just one massive conspiracy theory. Is it a scientific experiment or the product of some calculations done on a computer somewhere that can tell the artist that a combination of certain words and certain cords would produce a certain emotion result in humans.

As an engineer, this makes more sense for my logical, analytical mind but I think I am just giving man too much credit.

There is a string and there’s a weaver of those strings.

Posted in Technology

The ISCSI device shows up as “Not consumed”

A few months ago, my team ran into a problem when we tried to mount a VMFs datastore with ISCSI backed LUN to particular hosts in a cluster. At the time all hosts were running VMware ESXi 6.7 U3

Problem

We had purchased a few new servers and for some reason, the VMFS datastore which was already connected to the existing servers in the current cluster was not showing up properly.

The ISCSI device shows up in the storage devices section of the vSphere client but the datastore displays “Not consumed”

We had escalated to VMware support but they pointed us to the storage vendor referring to the logs that show that the connection between the two was being dropped. We had also tried formatting the datastore but that didn’t work either. It just gave an error – “Failed to create VMFS datastore Test – Cannot change the host configuration

Solution

I decided to set up a nested ESXi to try to simulate the issue since we didn’t have any spare servers to test it on. I downloaded the appliances from William Lam’s site – virtuallyghetto – https://www.virtuallyghetto.com/nested-virtualization/nested-esxi-virtual-appliance

Decided to try out 6.7 then 7.0. For some reason the appliance deployment for 6.7 failed so I went ahead to use the 7.0 appliance.

After installing and configuring the hypervisor as I would the physical server, I went on to configure the iSCSI software adapter as well and voila! I could see, mount and create a datastore from the LUN.

I went on to upgrade one of the hosts that were previously not connecting and it worked. I guess the conclusion is that the issue, whatever it was, was fixed in v7.0

Update:

After upgrading a few hosts we realized the issue still occurs on some of the hosts. This meant that the issue was not with the version of ESXi.

We took another look at the hosts that were working and compared them with those that were not and realized that it appears the MTU was different. Some hosts had 9000 and some others had 1500. The MTU was really not consistent all through.

Solution

We changed the MTU on the hosts that were not connecting to the storage and that solved the issue. It was amazing that after a few weeks of troubleshooting, the issue rested on the MTU.

Anyway, unto the next discovery….

Posted in Technology

vExpert – Your application was not approved

In December 2020, a colleague mentioned the vExpert program. He basically prompted me to apply saying “I think you should apply. I will too. Even if we don’t get it then at least we tried

I had already heard about the program and was planning on applying. I had already selected a mentor and reached out to him.

by the 4th of January 2021, I had put together all the information required and took my shot. Once I submitted. I kept my fingers crossed and was actually hopeful that I’d be selected.

On the 10th I saw this tweet and started getting quite anxious. If I had long fingernails, I’d be smashing my teeth into them.

By the 11th, I must have refreshed my mailbox a hundred times. I had also logged into the vExpert portal to see if there were any changes. I checked out the directory, filtered it to show 100 entries per page and memorized the number of pages. Then, I kept refreshing to see if it would increase. Crazy huh? 😉

I got this tweet from the Steve Athanas congratulating all the vExperts and that’s when it hit me. If I was selected then I should have already gotten the email. My heart sank and I felt terrible. But I was happy for the new vExperts and spent the remaining hours of the day on LinkedIn congratulating all the vExperts that showed up on my wall.

I finally got the denial mail and somehow felt comforted that it was personalized. It also gave some tips on what the panel is looking out for.

The award is for those who have gone above and beyond your day job. It’s sometimes difficult to dig into work vs. community work when sessions of work are under the same company you work for.

Now, I can’t wait for November when I can take another shot at it and hopefully I’ll write about that experience 🙂

Posted in Life

The paralysis of analysis

A typical pattern in most organizations that are starting out is that they have a lot of employees that are driven and energetic and who urgently take big decisions to move the organization from where it is currently (a start-up) to a much stronger organization.

The challenge with this pattern is that it breaks down at some point. As these organizations become successful they become complacent and that fire begins to whittle down until it is totally extinguished.

Craig Groeschel once said “Success kills pride, pride kills urgency and that is why people say nothing fails like success”

The idea here is not to just be urgent and to take decisions without thinking it through. No, the goal is to not be caught in the state of constantly analysing and reanalysing every possible scenario but to get up and go ahead with your idea.

The decision to step out with your idea is often not an easy one. Our design ideas are usually a reflection of who we are and there is that fear that your idea will be rejected or someone will poke so many holes in it and totally discourage you. So, we end up thinking about every scenario and digging into every detail – thus, we find ourselves stuck in the paralysis of analysis. The danger in this is not the analysis itself, it is the fact that you become paralyzed while doing this and therefore cannot react to an urgent situation or need that requires your attention.

Jeff Boss, a contributor on Forbes has outlined five points to help us urgently react and get rid of this paralysis;

  1. Set a “drop dead” date: Set a deadline that you should not exceed. Remember that other people (units and departments even customers) are most likely expecting your feedback. Preferably set a date before your actual deadline.
  2. Get a sanity check: Share your ideas with others. Not everyone, but people you trust and respect. Basically, bounce your ideas off them and get their feedback. No, do not setup long meetings (everybody’s time is precious). A casual conversation about your ideas will suffice. Now, you may ask, how does this help me make a decision faster? This exercise ensures that you get a fresh pair of eyes to look at those ideas and flag areas of issues hopefully long before you do.
  3. Curb your curiosity: Curiosity is the mother of invention but it also killed the cat. Know when to put on those breaks and slow down. It is unlikely that you will solve all of life’s problems tonight.
  4. Recognize that the moons will never align: According to ScienceFocus, the eight major planets of the Solar System can never come into perfect alignment. The last time they appeared even in the same part of the sky was over 1,000 years ago, in the year AD 949, and they won’t manage it again until 6 May 2492. He who watches the wind [waiting for all conditions to be perfect] will not sow [seed] – Ecclesiastes 11:4. In other words, don’t fret if your ideas or decision doesn’t feel quite complete. You can always improve on it later.
  5. Stair step your decisions: This basically involves breaking a major decision into smaller, easier to tackle ones. Its the little decisions that lead up to the main one.
Posted in Technology

2020 In Review

2020 started with a list of badges & certifications that could show the skills I’ve built over time and also what I love doing. I’ve built some great things over the years so some badges won’t be bad 🙂

I’m proud to say that target is now complete with the achievement of the VMware Certified Implementation Expert and the VCAP-DCV Design certification.

With all that 2020 brought, it was the year that I made the greatest investment in myself through learning & development. There were many long days and nights and a lot of sacrifices from my family.

What’s next for 2021? I’ll probably explore VMC on AWS, GCP (especially the VMware engine) and the VMware Specialist – Cloud Provider

My advice to others thinking about something similar – “Make a plan and start somewhere”

Posted in Exam Preps, Technology

3V0-624 Preparation & Exam Experience

First off, if you haven’t read my previous post on my Journey to the vSphere Design. Do click the link and you’ll find there a portion of my journey to achieve this certification.

Preparation

  • First off, go through the exam guide several times. Everything you need for the exam is in there including everything else I’ll list below in this section.
  • Understand the basics of design – Conceptual, Logical, Physical. A great explanation of the differences is outlined in Rebecca Fitzhugh’s blog
  • VMware Product Interoperability Matrices – This provides information about how various VMware products interoperate.
  • Upgrade guides & steps for VMware products – You need to be familiar with how to upgrade different products from different versions and some of the best practices in doing so. You can find loads of information about this on the VMware validated designs.
  • Resource utilization – This is basically Objective 3.4 – Determine appropriate computer resources for a vSphere 6.x physical design
  • VSAN configuration guides. VSAN is a crucial component in almost every design so you need to understand this thoroughly. According to the exam guide, you need to be familiar with the following documents.
    1. VMware vSAN 6.5 Technical Overview
    2. vSAN Stretched Cluster and 2 Node Guide
    3. vSAN 6.2 for Remote and Branch Office Deployment
    4. vSAN Overview
  • Requirements, Limits, and Licensing of several VMware solutions – vSphere, vCenter, FT etc
  • Understand how to identify a set of goals, requirements, assumptions and constraints from interviews with various stakeholders – this was somewhat confusing because not many businesses in my region have roles broken down into CIO, CTO, SMEs. Bottom line, there are a lot of overlapping roles. The vBrownBag video by Mark Gabryjelski helped with this
  • Understanding the difference between functional and non-functional requirements – Check out Rebecca Fitzhugh’s blog.
  • Analyse design decisions and options – vBrownBag videos from Joe Clarke and Paul Cradduck helped clarify these
  • Finally, the VCAP6-DCV Design Quiz by vMusketeers helped place me in the exam scenario. I wish the questions were up to 60 though

Exam Day

  • Get enough rest/sleep. I’m ashamed to say that I dozed off several times during the exam. A consequence of not getting enough sleep.
  • Be sure to visit the loo 😉
  • Check-in early and go through the checking process. I had issues during my exam and spent two hours getting it fixed with Pearson Support. Later found out that it was an issue with the TLS version in Internet Explorer.
  • Read, read and re-read the questions before looking at the options
  • Don’t assume that the first few statements in the question point to the answer. Sometimes a large part of the question is designed to through you off balance 🙂
Posted in Exam Preps, Technology

Journey to VCAP-Design

My journey to achieving the VCAP Design started in 2015 when I attended the VMware vSphere: Design Workshop [V5.5] training in the UAE. At the time I had the VCP5-DCV and about 4 years of experience “managing and building” vSphere environments. I have that in inverted commas because the environment I was managing at the time was a tiny one comprising of 2 hosts and less than 10 VMs. I also had not designed environments that were bigger than 5 or 6 hosts.

The training course was a huge eye-opener for me. It exposed me to validated designs and VMware best practices and the lab environment was well…huge! :-D. Needless to say it was a lot of information to process. The course came with a free voucher and since my flight from the UAE was 48 hours after the last day of the course. I had to take the exam within that window. I attempted the VMware Certified Advanced Professional 5 – Data Center Design (VCAP-DCD) exam on the 15th of December but I was not very prepared and I failed – Ouch!

My second shot at the design exam was in 2019. I registered for the VMware Certified Advanced Professional 6.5 – Data Center Virtualization Design Exam (3V0-624). A few years had passed after my first try so I felt I should be good. I also figured that I had some more experience designing vSphere environments and had learnt and used more VMware technologies.

Sadly, I still did not completely have a grasp of the design methodologies and failed again. My score was 260 out of a passing score of 300. Double Ouch!

From the score report, the list below shows the areas I missed and what I needed to improve on;

  • Gather and analyze application requirements
  • Determine risks, requirements, constraints and assumptions
  • Map Business Requirements to a vSphere 6.x Logical Design
  • Build Availability Requirements into a vSphere 6.x Logical Design
  • Build Manageability Requirements into a vSphere 6.x Logical Design
  • Build Performance Requirements into a vSphere 6.x Logical Design
  • Build Security Requirements into a vSphere 6.x Logical Design
  • Transition from a Logical Design to a vSphere 6.x Physical Design
  • Create a vSphere 6.x Physical Network Design from an Existing Logical Design
  • Create a vSphere 6.x Physical Storage Design from an Existing Logical Design
  • Determine Appropriate Compute Resources for a vSphere 6.x Physical Design
  • Determine Virtual Machine Configuration for a vSphere 6.x Physical Design
  • Determine Datacenter Management Options for a vSphere 6.x Physical Design
Posted in VMUG

October Odyssey – Final Four Qualifiers

I got an email with the above subject on the 30th and I was excited and confused. Confused because I remembered that I didn’t complete the vSAN-Advanced Game lab in time. I also noticed that I was quite low on the leaderboard so I was suprised to receive this email from the VMUG Event Coordinator.

Anyway, I reached out to her and she informed me that it was an error. This confirmed that I didn’t make the cut and won’t be getting the Sonos Speaker I so hope for. 🙁

Oh, well…on to the next thing.

Update:

I got this in the mail today. Awesome

It’s a Fleece Jacket from Patagonia branded with VMware, Intel, and the VMUG October Odyssey 2020 logo. This almost feels better than getting the Sonos speaker. Maybe cos it was unexpected.

See you in the next one…

Posted in VMUG

Congratulations! VMUG October Odyssey Round 1!

Amazing! I made it through the first round.

I got the mail from the VMUG president, Steve Athanas

On behalf of the VMUG team and VMware Odyssey Hands-On Lab, thank you for participating in our opening round of our 2020 October Odyssey Tournament! We all appreciate the support and hope you enjoyed the evening and had some fun while learning something new along the way!

I would like to be the first to congratulate you as one of our official October Odyssey – Sweet 16 Participants! With your time in last night’s lab, you have qualified for the official tournament and a chance at prizes and the title of October Odyssey Champion!

So excited. I’m even more excited to see my name on the tournament board.

The next round is on the 21st of October and the lab for that round is Horizon – Getting Started.

Fingers crossed!

Posted in VMUG

VMUG October Odyssey Tournament

With the pandemic in full swing everywhere, I decided to get more active with the VMUG community. I enjoyed the varying topics presented in different webinars. I also especially like the freebies. What can I say I love Awooff! 😀

Anyway, I found out about the October Odyssey Tournament and was excited about the opportunity to win some exciting prizes.

I wasn’t excited about the 1st prize though which was a Millennium Falcon Lego Set. I figured it will be exciting to build this set but having toddlers, all I could see was 7541 pieces that could cause a choking hazard. My eye was on the Sonos Speaker.

The first round of VMUG’s inaugural October Odyssey is tomorrow night.

Let’s see how it goes!

Posted in Archives, Life

Órenté

A few days ago I was at “Next Shopping Mall” and I heard a song in Yoruba. The song is titled “Órenté” and it’s by “Adekune Gold”. Now the song is not fully in Yoruba, it does contain some English lyrics but it was quite nice.

Anyway, when I heard the song I had a strange feeling. I felt some weird love for the language and I was kinda proud that I was Yoruba. The next feeling was that I will like my kids to speak the language fluently. This second feeling was weird cos I think that’s what my father must have felt when he came home one day and insisted that we all begin speaking Yoruba to him – that never worked out. Instead I think it created a rift between us and him. We couldn’t really express our true selves because we had to rehearse everything we wanted to say then translate it from English to Yoruba before speaking it out.

However, the song was a good one and I ended up searching for it online and playing it back to back for a few days after. In the song, the guy is basically praising a lady for being loyal and sticking with him. He says

we may not have money but we have health, we may not have money but we have peace of mind. We may not have a roof over our head but our life is as sweet as honey…“.

Now you know why I love the song 😉

Posted in Archives, Life

The Signal

Was listening to Signal by Sara Groves. It’s one of the songs on her new album – Floodplain.

All the clichés about how fast kids grow are true. I woke up this morning eye to eye with you. The love songs and adages couldn’t explain the whole of all you’re becoming, body and soul

I could relate with the words of the song and it brought out some emotions in me too. As I write this, K is 13 months and she’s a little more than the full length of my torso. I remember holding her a few minutes after she was born and I remember how very tiny she was then. Right now she’s feeling a bit independent – wanting to wear her shoes on her own and close her feeding bottle by her self. It’s really a glimpse of years to come (God willing), where she may be taking decisions about which school to go to and which man to marry – I quivered a bit as I wrote that. 🙂

Anyway, there’s really so much emotion and love that has shown these past year. It’s a different kind of love too, different from the love I have for E. It feels like the love God has for me; It’s deep, purposeful, intense and has no bounds. I know I can do anything and everything for her.

Sara ends the song in a way I’ll want my wife and kids to remember me always. She says ;

All the clichés about how much I love you are true. As big as the sky and up to the moon, a million a zillion, infinity plus one

Posted in Archives, Life

Legacy

I will be hitting the big 30 in November and the major question on my mind is what do I have to show for it?

Of course I can begin thinking and listing out all the “things” I think I have achieved – my job, my assets…etc but are they really worth it? Is this all my life amounts to?

This seems like one of those notes I used to write in my journal many years ago. I remember I often called it “my black book”. This was cos all the dark depressing thoughts I had were penned/penciled down in there (I should find it and dust it up). I did that for many years till I became stronger and better at dealing with them. This is not one of those notes.

Sunday, as I walked into FWC, I noticed on my left images and pictures of a man. A man that I had never seen before but I strangely recognized. As I entered church and sat down, I saw more pictures of this same man. I later realized that this was a man that made all of this happen. This was the man that God worked through to birth the immense structure and ministry under which I now sat. Through out that service and afterwards one word kept running through my mind – the word LEGACY. What will my legacy be? What will I be remembered for? What impact will my 3 decades on earth have produced? All these questions point me to one conclusion and that is that “I have failed you Lord”. As I sit and write this, I feel the great potential locked up within me that is gradually being snuffed out by the thorns in this life, by indiscipline, complacency and lack of planing. Which is why, starting today I commit to do the following;

  • To break down my life’s vision statement
  • To plan for it every step of the way
  • My exact plan for my career path
  • My exact plan for a woman My exact plan for marriage and settling down.
  • To pray fervently for my fathers help and guide (I am a spiritual being above all else) and,
  • To do all this daily, no matter what.

“We must put a stop to such distractions and get into such a living relationship with God that our relationship with others is maintained through the work of intercession”

To those who have had no agony Jesus says, “I have nothing for you; stand on your own feet, square your own shoulders. I have come for the man who knows he has a bigger handful than he can cope with, who knows there are forces he cannot touch; I will do everything for him if he will let Me. Only let a man grant he needs it, and I will do it for him.”  – The Shadow of an Agony, 1166 R

Posted in Life

The beginning of something beautiful (I hope)

So, this is my first post and I have a weird need to start it by saying “Captain’s log. Stardate 06062016…”. The Stardate is obviously wrong but it is an actual date – todays.
My posts will be about myself, my experiences, the things I love and have learnt in technology (there will be a lot of this) and other things. “Myself” will expand into my personal life, my family life and most importantly, my walk with God. It is the most important aspect of my life, at least it should be…
Before I continue, I later did a Google search on stardates and found a website that calculates the stardates from a date and time. According to it, the stardate for the time of writing this is 94034.36. I have no clue if this is correct or if there’s any such thing as a stardate. I probably will research this later.
Back to my journal. I titled this the beginning of something beautiful because I hope that my writing will continue and that someday, hopefully when someone does read it (if ever), it will inspire, encourage and motivate them (much like all of C.S Lewis’s writing does for me) and even if it doesn’t, at least they’ll smile and have a good laugh. After all, “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine”.