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  • Varrow Madness 2015 : IT’s a wrap

    Another year, another great Varrow Madness event is now in the books. This is one of the big events I look forward to every year.  This annual free conference is a juggernaut and showcases some of the best solutions and technologies in the industry and is a balanced approach of showing where things are heading in the market and more immediate trends and needs. This year was held at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro North Carolina.

    Varrow Madness is themed and centered around March Madness basketball tournament. North Carolina has a special connection with the tournament with the number and density of in state teams that make the sweet 16 year after year.  IT folks can be very passionate about their technology but NC IT folks can also be very passionate about their basketball. When NC State won with the buzzer beater, there were some very happy people and some not so very happy people.

    I am a VA Tech fan so take that for what it’s worth, Let’s go Hokies…  We are not in it this year though… always next year.

    This is my after action report of Varrow Madness 2015.

    Madness Kick Off and Keynote 1

    The event kicked off with a special video intro The History of IT video

    The intro video for Varrow Madness 2015! The History of IT. https://t.co/RElbVEGfeL #VM15
    — Jason Nash (@TheJasonNash) March 20, 2015

    After the video Varrow CEO and co-founder Jeremiah Cook took the stage to welcome everyone and provide a very touching keynote and kick off Varrow Madness to our Varrow family of customers, partners and all other attendees. It is always a treat to hear Jeremiah speak and reminds me every time on why I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.

    BreakOut Sessions

    There were over 45 individual breakout sessions in one day with a fantastic lineup of Varrow and special guest speakers so it is really hard to choose what to attend. As it is a one day only event, none of the sessions are repeated. With topics from traditional datacenter, software defined networking from both NSX and ACI, Cloud technologies, Mobility, End User Computing (EUC), Security and DevOps we had it all. There really is something for everyone at this event.

    So what did I do at Varrow Madness, glad you asked…

    Breakout #1
    EUC Layering – Comparing and Contrasting the Options by Varrow Architect Earl Gay

    About Earl: (Give him a follow on twitter He will make you laugh and learn). Earl also delivers great information on his blog as well.

    Session Information

    About the session: Layering technologies can help ease application management for both physical and virtual desktops. There are many different technologies that fall under the layering umbrella, even though many of them work in dramatically different ways. In this session, we will discuss the options available from different vendors.

    This technical session was packed with great information around the current players delivering layering technologies in the market today.

    Also don’t fret if you couldn’t make Varrow Madness. Earl will giving the EUC Layering Smackdown at Briforum Denver this July 20th – 22nd, don’t miss it.

    Breakout #2
    Automate your life with PowerCLI 6.0 by Alan Renouf

    About Alan: Alan Renouf is a Product Manager at VMware focusing on Automation Frameworks and CLI, he is responsible for providing the architects and operators of the cloud infrastructure with the toolkits/frameworks and command-line interfaces they require to build a fully automated software-defined datacenter. Alan is a frequent blogger at http://blogs.vmware.com/PowerCLI and has a personal blog at http://virtu-al.net. You can follow Alan on twitter as @alanrenouf.

    Session Information

    Attend this session to find out why PowerCLI 6.0 is the best way to automate your life, remove those common unwanted tasks, manage your environment from vSphere to vCloud and even improve your love life! Find out how PowerCLI can automate the latest vSphere 6.0 features and make you a superhero.

    This was a great session packed with information, PowerCLI 6.0 is a great release with a ton of new enhancements, enhancements that enable other products like VSAN, vCloud Air, module based approach that could enable faster development of PowerCLI enhancements in the future.

    For a full rundown of PowerCLI 6.0 Check out the announcement post here. I am a big fan of PowerCLI and Alan, Alan has done a lot for the community including his well known vCheck Script.

    If you haven’t started with Powershell or PowerCLI, anyone can learn and use powershell and make their lives easier. Alan has also written several books about PowerCLI as well that would be excellent resources for getting started with PowerCLI.

    Keynote #2
    Alexis Ohanian – Co-founder of Reddit and and has been involved in a number of other startups such as Hipmunk and more…

    Alexis Ohanian is an American internet entrepreneur, activist and investor based in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, best known for co-founding the social news website Reddit, helping launch travel … Wikipedia

    I wish i had video I could share of this keynote, but what I can share is this was a great engaging keynote, he capture the audience with his colorful keynote.. He also made me want to go eat Waffles at Waffle House, go on a binge watching Smooth McGroove videos and look at pictures of grumpy cat…  I also had to go play a game of Scorched Earth for old times sake.


    This is not the actual video from our event but a TED Talk





    After the keynote, I got to meet Alexis for a few minutes. This guy is awesome, I am now a fan. On Slack we were talking about how much Alexis reminded us of one of our own Varrowites, AJ Kuftic. In fact they were talking together, I even think there is even a resemblance between the two…


    If you are not using Slack for internal communications, you should be. Slack was also given a big shout-out during the DevOps Toolkit session I attended next.

    BreakOut #3
    The DevOps Toolkit – Jonas Rosland, EMC – aka @virtualswede

    Jonas works for EMC Code – perhaps a lesser known division within EMC that focuses on Open source tools and development to help the community and EMC. Check out their Github page.

    “CODE OPEN, DEPLOY EVERYWHERE” – EMC believes in open source. CODE is here to share and collaborate with developers worldwide.

    Session Information

    Business opportunities change all the time, and every business opportunity is now an IT project. In this session, you’ll learn about the toolkit that IT needs to understand to better survive in this more rapid and fluid world of IT/Business intersection. Learn about Automation, Continuous Deployments, working with Public Clouds and other tools/techniques to deal with projects that need to move at the speed of business.

    This was another fabulous session and really got me thinking about DevOps, this is something that has crossed my mind from time to time. As someone who has dabbled in development of things from scripts and automation, this session hit a spark for me to really start digging further in DevOps and how this can help enable business and IT, both internally and more importantly for our customers.

    BreakOut #4 and final session for me. Last but not least and saving the best for last.

    The last session of the day for me was the “Mobility Panel”

    The panel consisted of an all star team of Varrow engineers and the scary thing is this just a bit of the depth that Varrow has in this technology.

    Panel Members

    • Thomas Brown – VMware VCDX-DTM #187 (1 of only 7 in the world) and Mobility Architect
    • Earl Gay – Mobility Architect VMware vExpert, Citrix Synergy Speaker
    • Jim Ryland – Just about every Citrix certification you can imagine – extremely smart and talented
    • And me… let’s move along

    Session Information

    This is an open Q&A session with Varrow Mobility’s best and brightest. Are you considering VDI? Wondering how to reign in those mobile devices? Curious what your peers are doing in the end user computing space? Bring your questions and get a chance to ask Varrow’s Mobility experts.

    This session was great, lots of questions about End User Computing and mobility trends with everything from Desktops as a Service (DaaS) Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Enterprise Mobility Management questions that cover products like Airwatch, XenMobile, application management technologies like layering and much much more. We could have easily went another hour with questions.

    What I did not get to do:
    I missed a number of great breakout sessions from a lot of great guest speakers like Scott Lowe (VMware), Chris Colotti (VMware, VCDX), Brian Gracely (ECM Code), Sean Cummins (EMC VMAX), Andy Gossett (Varrow CCIE), Rawlingson Rivera (VMware, aka Captain VSAN), Mike Foley (VMware Security), Nelson Estevez (Citrix Netscaler), Geremy Meyers (Citrix) Art Harris (Varrow Citrix), Sarath Velagaleti (Varrow Citrix), Josh Coen (Varrow VCDX), & Jason Nash (Varrow CTO, Dual VCDX-NV & DCV) & Many more

    I do wish the sessions were recorded, maybe one day.


    Event Closing
    The event ended with a ton of prize give sways and a Thank you to all attendees of the event. After all the many prizes were handed out, there was one last piece of business to attend to and that would be the St. Patrick’s Day Happy Hour.

    Invitation for Next Year.
    Next year Varrow Madness will be held in Charlotte North Carolina at the Westin – Stay Tuned as we get closer to the event. Come join us next year, you won’t be disappointed.

    Some random tweets and comments from the event:

    Had an awesome time @VarrowMadness #vm15 ! Until next year! And thanks for the props y’all. #CiscoACI
    — vCarly Stoughton (@_vCarly) March 20, 2015

     

    @TheJasonNash: One minute it’s @scott_lowe talking #VMwareNSX and next it’s @_vCarly talking #CiscoACI ! #VM15” Damn. Talk about #BrainHurt
    — J Metz (@drjmetz) March 19, 2015

    So @alexisohanian is taller than me. AND YES I KNOW MOST PEOPLE ARE TALLER THAN ME. #VM15 pic.twitter.com/RxoG3tfWKM
    — Jason Nash (@TheJasonNash) March 19, 2015

  • Things just got real: Varrow Enterprise Hybrid Cloud

    Varrow just announced their release of its hands-on enterprise hybrid cloud environment they are showcasing at the Carolina Panthers game on Oct 30th. I got to see a live demo and it was impressive to say the least and I don’t impress easily. A lot of work obviously went into it led by Josh Coen and Chris Horn of Varrow.

    This demo was exciting to see and it showed what these solutions can do when combined and set up properly. I have seen a lot of demos and several companies talk about setting up a true hybrid cloud envionrment but this was one of the first time I saw all of the puzzle peices put together.

    From the release regarding the goals of the lab.

    In the design of its hands-on enterprise hybrid cloud, Varrow set out to build a hybrid cloud environment where both public and private cloud resources could be monitored and managed from one point of control, where workloads could easily be moved to and from public and private clouds, and where normally complex and time-consuming tasks are automated and reduced to a few mouse clicks.

    Cloud has always been a bit of hype and buzzwords but this is the closest I have seen to the “vision”

    Automation is something I find near and dear to my heart and can be a complex undertaking but is well worth the effort and was one of the highlights for me. It is one of the lynchpins of a true Hybrid Cloud in my opinion. There is a lot that goes into this solution from a technology standpoint.

    The infrastructure platform for Varrow’s hands-on enterprise hybrid cloud is built upon industry leading solutions from VMware, Cisco and EMC.  The VMware software stack is built around VMware’s vCloud vRealize suite and includes integration of VMware’s vCAC, vCO, LogInsight, and vCOPS with Cisco UCS compute and Nexus 9000 switches, providing full 40Gb connectivity and a solid foundation for software-defined networking (SDN).  EMC storage infrastructure includes Isilon, XtremeIO, VPlex, VNX, VNXe and VMAX; all storage platforms are abstracted and managed via EMC’s software defined storage platform, EMC ViPR. The Varrow Enterprise Hybrid Cloud is currently federated with Peak 10, Amazon AWS, Azure, and vCloud Air, allowing for the seamless migration of workloads from the Private to Public Cloud.

    From what I saw in the demo I think they nailed it and it was very compelling. This was not just another cloud presentation or bullet in a product brief talking about product capabilities.  This was not vaporware. They actually pulled together all of the pieces you would imagine in a real hybrid cloud scenario and showed it from an Administrator’s view and how people at various levels of the business could see and interact with it.

    Things just got real.


  • VMware vSphere 5.1 Known Issues : Updated 9/17/2012

    VMware released vSphere 5.1 at VMworld 2012 in San Francisco and with any new product release there are usually bumps on the road, compatibility issues and things that just don’t work. VMware vSphere 5.1 is no exception.

    I have been part of many beta tests for other companies as well as several vSphere editions going back to 3.x. Not every configuration and product can be tested. The beta process does catch a lot of issues. The day software goes live without any issues every time, a lot of people will be without work..

    I have decided to catalog a few of the known issues with the vSphere 5.1 release.

    Perhaps the larges issue is that VMware View and vSphere 5.1 are not compatible yet.

    Last Updated 09/30/2012

    vSphere 5.1 and VMware View (all versions of View) 

    VMware vSphere 5.1 is not currently supported with any versions of VMware View.

    Do not upgrade vSphere above the supported versions listed in the VMware View 5.1 Release Notes.

    vSphere 5.1 is in the process of being certified against VMware View. To be alerted when this article is updated, click Subscribe to Document on the link above in the actions box

    VMware vSphere 5.1 and Cisco UCS

    Read Chad Sakacc’s post for more details. vSphere 5.1 support on Cisco UCS, the VMEM needs a new vSphere 5.1 specific .vib.

    VMware vSphere 5.1 KB articles

    VMware complied several of the 5.1 KB articles in a recent blog post on VMware Support Insider blog

    More VMware vSphere 5.1 KB articles  ** Added 9/17/2012 **

    VMware has compiled more vSphere 5.1 KB articles that you may have missed. This one features a few of the Single Sign-On (SSO) issues that have been common for some of you

    vCenter Server Services hang on startup after upgrading to vCenter Server 5.1 

    From the VMware KB article: Follow the link for resolution

    • After upgrading to vCenter Server 5.1, the VMware VirtualCenter Server service fails to start
    • The VMware VirtualCenter Server service will not successfully stop or start.
    • The vpxd log files show the following:
      • The final log in the vpxd.log file shows:
        CoreDump: Writing minidump
    • You see a backtrace near the very bottom of the vpxd.log file which begins with the following:

    2012-09-13T11:53:46.802+02:00 [04468 info ‘vmmoVm’ opID=SWI-c5103928] [VmMo::SetComputeCompatibilityDirty] vm vm-5345 is marked dirty
    2012-09-13T11:53:46.786+02:00 [05112 warning ‘win32vpxdOsLayer_win32’ opID=SWI-56f04b9c] [VpxUnhandledException] Backtrace

    Increased Restart time with vCenter Server 5.1

    This issue only impacts the start/re-start time for vCenter Server. It does not affect the ongoing operations after vCenter Server has started. In fact, due to improvements to the vCenter Server database, the use of vSphere Web Client, the Inventory Service cache, customers will notice significant performance improvements in vCenter Server 5.1.

    VMware vSphere 5.1 and EMC VMAX arrays.

    Sphere 5.1 changes the behavior of VAAI Hardware Accelerated Locking (aka ATS) to no longer work with transient (sometimes on/sometimes off) ATS behavior, and older (i.e. non-current) versions of Enginuity will fail to create VMFS-5.

    VMware vSphere 5.1 and EMC PowerPath V/E 

              **** Updated 09/26/2012 Resolved *** – Fix is out.

    PowerPath/VE customers, hold off vSphere 5.1 upgrades (GA was yesterday).   Hotfix P02 from EMC is in days, and so is the expected VMware fix, follow the above link for more details on Chad Sakac’s blog post

    VMware vSphere 5.1 and Synology DSM 4.1   ** Blog updated on 9/18/2012 **

    Kendrick Coleman found an issue with the most recent release of DSM 4.1 and vSphere 5.1

    It’s possible to mount both NFS and iSCSI datastores, but when you try to build or power on a VM, everything begins to halt when it needs to write to disk. If everything runs in memory (like mounting an ISO and beginning an OS installation), but when it comes to install the OS to disk, it begins to crawl. I checked the vmkernel log and here is what is shown. You can see that after I power on the VM, it gets binded to a port but when it tries to read from disk, there are all sorts of errors 

    Update Manager 5.1 reports the compliance status as Incompatible when scanning or remediating ESXi 5.x hosts that belong to an HA cluster 

    I personally ran into this issue when upgrading my lab – see Update Manager 5.1 Release Notes

    CA Signed SSL Certificates may cause trouble with the upgrade process of vCenter.

    From Michael Webster’s blog at http://longwhiteclouds.com/

    I have heard unconfirmed reports of difficulties with the upgrade process of vCenter particularly with registering Inventory Service and SSO with vCenter when using CA Signed SSL Certificates. As I’m using CA Signed Certificates in my lab environment I will update this article when I have completed my upgrade.

    Troubleshooting SSL certificate updates and Single Sign On (2033240)
    vCenter Single Sign On installer reports: Error 29155. Identity source discovery error (2034374)

    ESXi cannot distinguish between EagerZeroedThick & LazyZeroedThick
    From Cormac Hogan’s Blog

    ESXi cannot distinguish between thick provision lazy zeroed and thick provision eager zeroed virtual disks on NFS datastores with Hardware Acceleration support

     When you use NFS datastores that support Hardware Acceleration, the vSphere Client allows you to create virtual disks in Thick Provision Lazy Zeroed (zeroedthick) or Thick Provision Eager Zeroed (eagerzeroedthick) format. However, when you check the disk type on the Virtual Machine Properties dialog box, the Disk Provisioning section always shows Thick Provision Eager Zeroed as the disk format no matter which format you selected during the disk creation. ESXi does not distinguish between lazy zeroed and eager zeroed virtual disks on NFS datastores.

    VMware vSphere 5.1 iPXE problems with AutoDeploy

     If you are having issues with IPXE and AutoDeploy please read Gabe’s Virtual World

    VMware Support Insider: ALERT: Full disk on vShield Edge 5.1.x fails with error: VIX_E_DISK_FULL ERROR

    Added 09/30/2012

    VMware has become aware of an issue whereby vCloud Networking and Security 5.1 release can go into an Edge disk full state approximately 14 days after the first edge is deployed.

    Symptoms include:

    • In vCloud Director, attempting a reconfig fails with this error:VIX_E_DISK_FULL
    • In vCloud Director, when looking at Edge Gateways, you receive this error:Edge VM backing the edge gateway is unreachable

    For further updates and more information on this alert, refer to KB article:
    Full disk on vShield Edge 5.1.x fails with error: VIX_E_DISK_FULL ERROR (2035939)

    Links for more information
    vSphere 5.1 Important Upgrade Considerations by Michael Webster VCDX #66 

    As with any upgrade please carefully consider especially before implementing in production. Reach out to your partners and trusted advisers for guidance so they can evaluate your environment to minimize issues.