Tag Archive: IT


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?

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Dell Wyse Cloud Connect

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.

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:

vC-vRAM-Alert

* 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:

vC-SQL-Error

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:

vCD-Reconnect

OUIT Shared Services – 2013

This year has been packed with things that we’ve been doing in S2 at University of Oklahoma.  We went production with both data centers in OKC and Norman being a stretched cluster.  Brought up vCloud Director to give our users self provisioning and better visibility into their environment.  This meant we had to get storage, both block and file, working across then we even upgraded the controllers for the Dell Compellent SAN.  We were able to do this with little to no downtime to our customers which proved what we designed it to do.

Now was it all easy and full of great smelling flowers?  No way.  I would love to say we can engineer an active/active data center with no issues.  But we have enough great engineers to quickly resolve or remedy a problem.  I’d say over all phase 1 of S2 is going pretty well.  If it wasn’t I doubt I would have been able to present over it on a vBrownBag podcast or a session at VMworld 2013 in San Francisco.  Now that was exciting, not everyone can say they spoke at a conference that is attended by 22,000+ people from around the world.

Phase 1 included:

  • Two Active/Active Datacenters (OKC and Norman with Tulsa being a separate data center for now)
  • 4 Dell Compellent SANs (2 each DC) with 800 TB RAW all together – largest environment in Oklahoma currently
  • 2 EMC Isilon NAS (1 each DC) with around 250 TB that can replicate to each other
  • 4 Cisco 7K’s (2 each DC) and multiple 5K’s and 2K’s that are linked together using either our dark fiber between us or OneNET’s path.
  • Juniper SRX firewalls
  • Palo Alto for IPS/IDS
  • 16 vSphere ESXi 5.1 general cluster nodes (8 each DC/Dell PowerEdge blades)
  • vCloud Director 5.5/vCOPS 5.7
  • View 5.2 (OKC only for now)

Phase 2 will be finishing the upgrade of our VMware environment to vCloud Suite 5.5 and seeing what vCAC 6 could bring to the table.  More training is already scheduled for our Operations and Design teams on vCloud Director, vCOPS, View and CommVault.  Simpana 10 backup is installed and configured but slowly rolling this out so we can finish up transitioning this into Shared Services as an offering to our customers.

It will be a busy year for us in 2014 but it will be a ride.. time will tell if it’s a great, good or heck of one!

Many thanks goes out to:

  • My coworkers, specifically David Stricklin (@strickfila) for backing me up when needed/keeping me in check and our VP David Horton (@hortonhearsyou) for doing all that he does for OU/OUHSC.
  • Sean O’Dell (@theseanodell) from VMware on always assisting me the OKC VMUG, keeping us up-to-date with VMW products and co-presenting at VMworld.
  • The vBrownBag community (@vbrownbag/#vbrownbag) like Jon Harris (@thevcacguy), Damian Karlson (@sixfootdad), Cody Bunch (@cody_bunch) and many others.  Check them out at http://www.professionalvmware.com
  • The VMUG community (@myvmug) as a whole and there’s not another one like it.
  • Also all past and current vExperts to which I’m thankful to say I am 1 out of 581 to be named in 2013.

If you do have Twitter, I highly recommend following these people as well as our Shared Services (@ouits2) and OKC VMUG (@OKCVMUG) pages to see what is going on for 2014.

There are several podcasts that I recommend besides just vBrownBag:

 

Now that VMworld is over and I’m back to work, it only seems right to write a take away about it.

First, my buddy and coworker David Stricklin went again as well this year so this marks his 4th and my 5th attendance.  Also our friend from the north campus, David Wisby, was also able to go so we definitely were able to “divide and conquer” the sessions as well as meet up for the parties.  Being a vExpert and VMUG leader there were a couple that only I could go so I was glad that both David’s (I’ll start calling them by last names) were able to hook up and have fun.

This was also the first time I went as a presenter.  My session was with Sean O’Dell who works at VMware and helps me with presentations/content for the OKC VMUG.  We had 116 register and 82 actually attend.  Not a bad turn out to hear what we are doing here at the University of Oklahoma with Shared Services.  It was great to get follow up questions and to hear of other universities starting to do the same as us.  The feedback was good except for the “it was boring and stop with the inside jokes” one.  I guess if you leave less than 10 minutes into the session you might think that and I apologize for my nervousness that I eventually was able to get out of the way.

The vExpert and VMUG parties were a great way to meet others in the two communities and nice to see that CEO Pat Gelsinger, COO Carl Eschenbach and then heard that former CTO Steven Herrod showed up after I left.  I highly doubt any other community would get that treatment but they need to.  I am definitely looking forward to next year and may try to do a follow up presentation on how we’ve progressed (hopefully the move from vCD to vCAC).

If you are in the IT field, be it virtualization, network or whatever I highly recommend following these vExperts on Twitter.  A lot of good info across the board and around the world. I will try to do a more in depth write up about the sessions I attended and the take-aways but now I have to go cry for installing and getting vCloud Director going for production a month before VMworld only to hear that it’s eventually going away and being cut up to get the multi-tenate in vCAC and other features else where.  Don’t mind the tears on the keyboard.

-Joey

Keeping up with Email

Have you felt overwhelmed by email or missed something important that was needing a response yesterday? Well, try an “inbox zero” life style. Let me explain.

Back in my GroupWise admin days, I had a “Cabinet” that I kept email in and liked that idea. When we migrated to Exchange/Outlook I created the same folder structure. Now at another employer I carried that lifestyle with me and it helps keep me organized with Outlook rules to automatically move emails where they need to be. The benefit is less work, easier to find.

Take this image of my setup:

20130117-215118.jpg

Sure it’s a lot of folders but I know exactly where to go to find an email. The next thing is on those emails that come in to your Inbox is to take care of it right then. If it’s junk, delete it. If it’s something important, reply. If you need “to do” it later, move it to the _To Do_ folder. I use underscores to keep this folder at the top most section of my Cabinet.

Now, how do you keep up with important emails and not get notified of everything?

If you are an iOS user, under your Mail/Account (ie Exchange) there’s a section to enable which folders to Push from Exchange:

20130117-215213.jpg

Choose only the folders you want to be notified/Pushed on. We are a Solarwinds shop so I have a folder for “SW Monitoring” with a subfolder “Nodes Reported Down.” What I do here is create an Outlook rule to move all emails from the SW account to the first folder. EXCEPT those that say “Nodes Reported Down” in the Body. Those get moved to the subfolder and I only Push that folder so I don’t get a bunch of unneeded alerts that I only keep for historical reasons and those about a server down get the upmost attention.

More importantly, besides the zero inbox, is I created a folder for “Infrastructure” that I added all my peers email addresses to and auto move them. This is dire so that I don’t miss anything they send.. even if it’s a joke or two. 🙂

It may seem like a lot of work at the beginning but I honestly don’t have to mess with my email account that much. Also, do not use your work email for anything that will spam you, that’s what Hotmail/Yahoo accounts are there for. I can honestly say by doing this I haven’t missed anything except when I let my phone die, now that’s where I need help. Can anyone tell me how to unplug from the world of technology?