For the last 14 years, I have been working in higher education at two different places. I built my IT foundation at OCCC and moved on to OUHSC to further my career opportunities. I rarely had my hands in the firewall or networking before the move but now I can say I have experience with Juniper firewalls and Cisco Nexus switches to say the least. But the key to changing careers is being able to learn from others and hopefully spread some of your knowledge too.
At OUHSC, we had a Top 70 list of different tasks that we did in a flat operational structure. Being able to train others on how to maintain a VMware shop was my duty as well as providing customers a great and stable environment for their services. Then we started this Shared Services model of bridging the three campus into one virtual data center. I presented at VMworld ’13 as well as a local conference for higher ed institutions on what we designed and created. It’s been awesome building this platform that stretches across boundaries of teams then teaching them how to run it. In my six years here I have been blessed in all aspects, my peers that created strong friendships and how well the leadership listened and took care of my family while giving me the chance to keep my passion going with virtualization. (Even let me host the OKC VMUG on campus because it was a great way to reach others.)
I was introduced to the VMware TAM organization last year when I applied for a position that ended up moving to Denver. My leadership knew that I was interviewing because I was honest with them, they treated me fairly so I felt I should too. Well another TAM position opened but this time it was SLED (State, Local and Education) based in Oklahoma. Right up my alley right?
Well my last day at OUHSC is now July 9th, three days after starting there six years ago. And Monday, July 13th, I will start at VMware as a TAM based out of OKC. It’s been fun and I will keep on preaching what Shared Services is doing in the private cloud space for higher education. They are leading where others are just talking.
Now how do I legally change my name to Victor Michael Ware? 😉
Recently I had to help figure out why some customers have been getting slow performance with VMs. Reservations were used but didn’t help. What did I do to find the issue? We are a VMware shop using vCloud Suite Enterprise which gives us vCenter Operations Manager (has a new name but I will always call it vCOPS) and the ability to use custom dashboards. Sadly I did not have it setup to use LDAP nor shared dashboards. After getting it going so our Operations staff can login and see the TOP-N graphs as well as the vCloud Director dashboards, I started seeing off the bat several high CPU Ready% VMs. Wasn’t too long that I was able to see that the VMs were hammering the vCPUs but the default Pay-as-You-Go organization setting in vCD is limiting the vCPU speed to 1GHz. No wonder right? The problem is that you have to make that change in the VDC of the organization and then restart the vApp. Not something you can do just in the middle of the day.
Like below I created a dashboard for our biggest customer so they can see how their environment is doing.
Notice that the top VM is at 31.5% CPU Ready. The issue is that this VM is in vCloud Director with the vCPU limited at 1GHz. Changed it to 4GHz but we cannot reboot this VM in the middle of the day so I removed the limit within vCenter.
You cannot tell since I blurred out their VM names but the one that was being limited is now off the list. This is actually the 2nd VM in the first picture that’s now at the top.
The above is right after I removed the limit. Notice the spike to just above 3,750MHz for this 2vCPU VM. Since they have 2vCPU they were able to hit 2000MHz (1GHz x 2vCPU) but the demand was more at this time. They could have added more vCPU’s but then we could run into other issues of too many vCPUs per host if that was the stance. Now I’m not saying the high CPU Ready% is always going to be this case, it could be the we need to right size VMs across the board and maxing out the hosts so there’s a CPU wait going on. So use what you can and monitor it as often as you can if you are providing services to customers. This is one case where I was able to find a problem before the customer reported it. That’s a win in my books!
I am sitting on the flight back home from VMworld and listening to podcasts from the conference. Seems the biggest deal was EVO:RAIL/RACK coming out. At first when I heard about Nutanix two years ago, I didn’t see them being an enterprise ready but man has the area grown.
Enter in Simplivity, I met with the local reps about 4 or so months ago and got to see what they are doing in this hyper-convergence market (like Nutanix and now EVO) and got to say I was impressed. One because they used Dell servers, which is a big partner of ours, but importantly all the functionality they have built in to their product. I had Nutanix sponsor our OKC VMUG last month and next Simplivity on October 24th, so it will good to see the differences. I highly recommend you to research them both so I don’t show bias here.
But why would you go the hyper-convergence route in your data
center? For me lately, I have been tasked to architect building blocks for both server and VDI environments. I totally see these three (Nutanix/Simplivity/EVO:RACK) be the path for VDI. One, each bring their own storage solutions so I can keep the IOPs off our primary storage (cause man Oracle is crazy needy!). And two, they make it easy to say “you need 100 VDIs, you need one of these..” and grow accordingly.
This doesn’t mean they suck at server VMs but I don’t need additional storage for those right now. Most of us already have that, but if you are building new look at them. Save rack space, power, cooling, and network ports by going this way in your virtualization environment. Each have limitations and functionality that the other don’t have but don’t want to start a vendor war.
Now my question, would you switch?
This has been my 6th straight VMworld (Thank you OUHSC for sending me each time!) and following each year we hear about new products or how one product will be replaced with another as the “go to” as in vCD to vCAC movement. This year was slightly different. There weren’t really any “new” products but a new suite of existing products, a new way of getting a hyper-convergence from partners with VMware and finally it seems like we can finally say it was the year of EUC (not really just VDI).
I’m still trying to figure this one out. About 2 years ago, VMware came out with the vCloud Suite that included all of their products needed to make a private cloud. The following year they came out with a product called Log Insight that was inspired to replace Splunk or other syslog products. But they didn’t include it in the vCloud Suite which I felt it would have made it an even better sell. At OU Shared Services, we bought the enterprise edition so we could easily build VMs with vCD (you can see my presentation at VMworld 2013 to find out more) as the ease of per proc license instead of a-la-carte style with per block of VMs. So where am I going, the vRealize Suite is labeled as “..cloud management platform purpose-built for the hybrid cloud. It provides a comprehensive management stack for IT services on vSphere and other hypervisors, physical infrastructure and external clouds, all with a unified management experience..” Didn’t that sound like vCloud Suite? The catch is that this suite would take the other further into the hybrid-cloud be it off-prem or non-VMware infrastructures. To which I say “dang you VMware!” But we have seen VMware make changes before after announcing here so I will hold my breath of frustration until after VMworld Barcelona.
It’s been joked about every year that it was the year of the VDI but it never really seemed to be. VDI is very hard to get going with some lacking features. In VMware’s case it was that they didn’t have a good virtual app stance for those that didn’t need full virtual desktops. VMware Horizon 6 fixed that with RDSH support. I’ve been playing with this in our lab since release (Thanks vExpert program for licenses!) and really love how easy it is to provision applications in the exact same interface for VDI’s. During one session they even talked about in the next update they will have printer support that some called out in the weeks leading up to VMworld. So VMware is definitely engaged in EUC and not playing around. Air Watch is getting some good looks but I’m not big into the EMM/MDM/whatever they want to be called in the market so I need to follow up more on them.
The biggest announcement, I would say, is EVO: RAIL (and futures RACK). There was a big burst on Twitter about a picture someone took inside of HQ. It had the caption “Project Marvin” with a little Android looking bot. This kicked off speculation on what was going on and many speculated that VMware was getting in the hardware business to attract those looking at Nutanix and Simplivity. But it’s a half truth. VMware just made a new product called EVO:RACK that includes the Enterprise Plus license, a vCenter license and VSAN that you buy in 4 node blocks of a 2U “Appliance” from partners like Dell/EMC(what!)Fujitsu/SuperMicro. I am sure more will come but that’s the initial list. Still servers but makes it easier for those to deploy a Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) in their environment. Heard two different reports of either VMware is the single point of contact for all problems but then heard you contact the partner support and VMware will be the Tier 3 support. The big take off is that it only takes 13 minutes to deploy these after racking and stacking due to the new HTML interface that configures and setups everything on the nodes.
Today is the last day, it was great hanging out with the community and I look forward to future announcements!
One or more RDSH (Windows Terminal Servers) with Horizon View Agent installed.
One or more VMware Horizon View Connection Servers version 6 already setup.
Software installed (or Thinapp’d!)
In your View Manager, add your Farms for the RDSH hosts:
Add the installed software:
Add entitled users:
Should look like this after you add the software:
Add a manual application (if only one host has the software* or if you are pointing to a ThinApp’d streaming package).
*I say if only one host because the software I installed wasn’t on the list but I may not have given it time to find it.
Misconfiguration with the path, Office 15 is no space and should be \Office15\
Now I get:
Since I only installed Visio on one of the RDSH instances then it will tell you which one is missing the software. If I needed to reboot view-rdsh-01 then the application would not be available in a HA scenario and this is a good way to find out those cases.
Now from the same client for desktops, you can also launch applications as well as create a shortcut for a quick launch of both:
Since View uses PCoIP, any device that is supported can launch these applications like the desktops with the same interface. The most time consuming part of the whole thing is just installing the software on the RDSH servers but you don’t need to do anything special.
I had the great benefit of meeting GS last year at VMworld 2013. Great guy and has a passion to help bring the virtualization community out of just behind our desks staring at monitors. Being able to listen to what others are doing is an awesome way to learn and make contacts with those doing the same as you.
Episode 19 – Joey “VM” Ware – VCAC’d on what I’ve been doing here at OU|S2 for the last few years.
Check out what his Virtualization User Podcast as a Service and subscribe in iTunes to get the new episodes.
Part of my job is to try out new things and build a use case around it. One of these projects I’ve been looking forward to is what Dell code named “Project Ophelia” which now is officially called the Dell Wyse Cloud Connect. This is a HDMI “dongle” (try to say that without laughing) that runs on Android 4.1 and can be used as a very low maintenance thin client PC. The price is what really gets me going coming in at $129 retail. No other zero or thin client comes close to that price point. And even if it did it barely did anything other than connect to your VDI or launched a web browser. So when the 5 showed up and our business office called, I rushed over to pick them up. I was a little taken back by the need for a Dell Cloud Client Manager account but after playing around I understand why. These things can easily come up “missing” and with the CCM you can have the device wiped (like your smartphone.. it is running Android remember?) and limit what gets loaded since Google Play is accessible.
Pros: Price, Price, Price.. also built-in Bluetooth/Wifi and ease of setup wizard.
Cons: You have to setup a Dell CCM account but they have a free 14 day Pro version or a free limited version.
Check out http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/wyse-cloud-client-manager/pd for more info on that.
So would I recommend this for every user? Not necessarily. If you do not have a high end TV, your desktop text will be hard to read. Also I could not get it to work on my 24″ Dell Ultrasharp as it just gave me a Dell logo.. I’m sure I need to read up more on requirements. But for those that travel and spend alot of time in hotels it might be good to have with a BT keyboard and mouse. I put one in our break room TV and our lab lounge TV. My next goal is to get it to function with our digital signage solution. The cost of a commercial TV is already expensive but the $500-1000 for a PC with no moving parts to get a longer lifetime could be reduced to the $129 cost and ease of remote setup/monitoring.
I haven’t been updating this blog very much lately but let me say something.. I’m exhausted mentally! Why you ask? Let me explain.
With Shared Services we have included training into most of the big purchases, which we like to do on-site due to the cost of travel for 6-18 people would be crazy to deal with all the stuff we have in production. This is also great in the sense that I get to see my family every day after work but since you are technically still on campus makes it hard to break away from the daily grind. That part is getting easier as we go though.
List of training that I’ve been in the last 2 months:
VMware vCloud Director 5.5 Install, Configure and Manage (3 days)
VMware View Best Practices (3 days)
VMware vCenter Operations Manager/vCOPS Analyze and Predict (2 days)
CommVault Basic Course (3 days)
We also had an Isilon Basic course (5 days) plus Compellent basic course (5 days) last year.
Where am I going with this? OU:S2 is making sure that our team is well trained to help support our customers. This also brings the 3 IT staff together from the different campuses and forms a way of reaching out to others in the class that may have a better handle on the environment. I really enjoy going to training and proud that OU allows us to keep learning.
This past Sunday, my phone was blowing up with email alerts. But what caught my eye was the alert that only happens when vCenter Service starts:
* For those that didn’t know, at one point VMware started this much hated vRAM tax on vSphere 5.0 and as you can see we still have some hosts/licenses tied to this model that they did away with in vSphere 5.1
When I finally saw this alert over and over, I knew that the vCenter Service was automatically restarting almost every 10 minutes. So after logging in I saw the following in the Windows Event Log:
As you can see that it states “..database ‘vcenter’ because the ‘PRIMARY’ filegroup is full…” so I checked the SQL server that was created just for VMware related databases was indeed out of space. Luckily it’s a VM so I just added more space to and then restarted the VMware VirtualCenter Server service and all was fixed within 10 minutes.
One last thing to check, if you have vCloud Director as well, is to reconnect the vCenter inside of vCD or you may not be able to provision new VMs or open Console:
Saw this pie chart on Twitter (yes I know it was more of a joke) on what group projects are supposed to teach us:
But this is how we really feel:
As a person who has been spending the last two years working on a huge “group project” I felt in a way that this was true in my life. But why? Is it because the right people haven’t been included or more that it’s hard for us to pass tasks off to others. My answer, both. I started over communicating to the point others probably created a junk rule on my emails. I only collaborated with putting documents and Visio drawings in Sharepoint. The in person meetings felt repetitive when tasks were stalled on any given reason and we couldn’t move forward anymore. Eventually we finished the core tasks so that we could move forward with production.
Now how do we fix the root of this problem?
Accountability, done effectively, is a skill you can develop just like any other skill, and while it is not a difficult skill to acquire and hone, it does require a high degree of conscious effort. When you do it right, you’ll also find it the fastest way to improve morale…
Is it morale? Obviously when I do something wrong (forget to change subnet on NAS/iSCSI, doh!) my morale is low but I don’t let it destroy my ability to function. Your morale needs to be a personal encouragement every day. Hold yourself accountable to the group. You were asked or assigned to it for a reason. If you feel like you cannot, ask why you were brought into the project.
Getting people engaged in their work so that they invest in and take personal ownership of the results you need to achieve is a fundamental management imperative.
While the above quote says management, I feel that is our personal obligation as well. If you are the leader of this group then it is also your responsibility to try and keep everyone involved. But ultimately this day and age we shouldn’t need someone to keep us involved. (Unless you are a
n evil Project Manager!)
If you feel I am off base or agree please let me know.