Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Adventures of Miles the United Polaris Bear

I'm on vacation and thought I'd have some fun with a stuffed bear I got when I flew in United's new business class service, called Polaris.  The service itself was amazing and the crew was fantastic. I couldn't have asked for a better 15+ hr flight.  That said, I already let the crew know and even emailed the 1K team to have them pass on the kudos so they get some recognition.

With the help of Blake Krone from Twitter, the bear has been dubbed Miles and these are his adventures in Sydney, New Zealand and who knows where else.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

VMworld 2017 Session Voting Is Live

It's that time of year again, where you get to play a unique role in deciding what content and speakers you want to see at VMworld 2017. This is one of the most unique attributes VMworld offers in my opinion and allows you, the customer and attendee, to help shape your conference experience.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

vRNI Next Steps - Adding Data Sources

A few weeks months ago I did a blog post on how to install VMware vRealize Network Insight 3.2. It has been a busy beginning of the year for me and I am now ready to share the next step in getting vRNI setup , adding Data Sources.  Data Sources in vRNI are where vRNI starts to gain intelligence about the topology, workloads and traffic.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

4 Byte BGP ASN Support in NSX 6.3

One of the new features of NSX 6.3 that some customers have been waiting for is 4-byte Autonomous System Number (ASN) support for the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). While the concept is simple

and the technology not new for many I wanted to show how it works and what we do with NSXv.
First, if you are unfamiliar with 4-byte ASN, read RFC 6793. Exciting stuff to read, but the long and short is that we were running out of Autonomous System numbers because of the initial use of 2 byte values. It’s now been increased to 4 bytes which allows for 4.2 billion AS to be assigned. Hopefully this will keep the problem of exhausting AS numbers at bay until we all retire. Side note, computer history is full of issues like this where the initial implementation of a technology doesn’t scale to meet requirements due to a bit of shortsightedness – HIMEM.SYS anyone?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Upgrading NSX to 6.3.1 - Step by step

NSX 6.3.1 was recently released to address some critical bugs and is the 2nd release of the newest major train. This train brings a whole new set of skills and capabilities to the platform which I will cover in future blog posts. If you can't wait, the release notes can be found here.

This post will cover the mechanics of the upgrade procedure from NSX 6.2, in this case 6.2.4 specifically, to NSX 6.3.1. Much of the look and feel is similar to the previous versions but we'll show the process in full - step by step.  We have so many new customers I want to make sure they see the process beginning to end. Certainly the official upgrade document should be reviewed in addition to this post. It can be found here.

The first step is to login to the NSX Manager.

From the home page navigate to the upgrade page.

You'll see the current release and see an Upgrade button on the right hand side of the page.

Next, find the .OVA file and upload it.

The system will upload the file and verify it isn't corrupted.

Once this is complete, you'll see the following screen where you can select a few things - enabling SSH to the NSX manager (say yes if you don't know - NSX Central CLI is good stuff!) and authorization for "CEIP".  Participate if you can, but some corporate policies may prohibit it.

The upgrade will progress and depending on your system speed, may take some time.

Once complete, the NSX Manager will reload and come back to the login page. Login and you can see the new version information, and the first inkling of a new NSX 6.3 feature, FIPS mode.

Now that NSX Manager is upgraded, we can go upgrade the rest of the NSX components and this is accomplished via the NSX GUI in vCenter Web Client.  First thing to do is check the health of your system and we've made it easier for customer in NSX 6.2 and even easier in NSX 6.3 via the Dashboard.

Assuming everything is healthy, go to the Management tab click on Upgrade Available to get the controllers rolling. my setup is a home lab, so only have one controller but you'll have three in your network. 

You'll see three states - Downloading, Upgrade in Progress, and Rebooting, After the controllers reboot You'll be set to proceed.

Next, go to the installation tab and start with the Host Preparation tab and you can see the Upgrade available. Click on the Upgrade available tab next to the cluster you want to start with. You'll be asked to verify your selection.

This can take some time we the upgrade rolls across the hosts. The hosts will be rebooted to load the new VIBs so plan accordingly. 

The last step is to upgrade the Edges. You'll see the Blue Upgrade arrow so click on it and watch the upgrade roll.  Note this will be disruptive as well, so plan accordingly!

With that, you've upgraded NSX to 6.3.1 and now have the platform to do a lot of awesome things. I am excited about this release and can't wait to share some of the nuggets of the features we added and enhancements to existing processes with you all.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

New York Spartan Winter Sprint 2017

November 4th, just a few days after completing our first trifecta, my son and I registered for a new type of Spartan Race, the Winter Sprint.  We knew this would be challenging in typical Spartan style but since we live in Ohio we know a bit about snow and cold. It seemed like a really good idea for a unique challenge and we (literally) ran with it.

Friday, March 17, 2017

My Spartan Story - Part 3

Asheville took a while to recover from. I didn’t exercise for a week and more or less shambled around for a few days while the soreness wore off.  I mentioned in part 2 that we had booked a Beast race to complete our trifecta and our sights were set on South Carolina. After Asheville I was seriously concerned about what awaits us at a Beast. If it is more difficult than Asheville – I might die.  😉

Friday, March 10, 2017

My Spartan Story - Part 2

After the beating we took at the Ohio Sprint both of us were limping and hobbling around the house for a few days. We talked about doing another race with a nervous laugh and both of us would find ourselves looking at the upcoming race schedule. We discussed it with each other and the rest of the family and decided to make a nice, fun weekend getaway to Asheville, NC for the next level of race, the Super.

Spartan Race has 3 main races, Sprint, Super and Beast. We did a Sprint in Ohio which was their “easiest” event.  If you complete one of each race in a calendar year, you have completed a trifecta. The generic guidelines for a Sprint is 4+ miles. If you recall from the first post, the Ohio Sprint was 6 miles so Spartan likes to take advantage of the + to the fullest extent.  A Super is 8+ and a Beast is 12+ so we knew we’d be in for a challenge.  Adding to the fun in Asheville is that it was one of the Spartan Race US Championship locations counting towards the overall Championship for the Elite racers. You know Spartan isn’t going to make it an easy race at all – oh my – what have we done?!
We talked about what did and didn’t work at Ohio, mainly shoes so we both got trail running shoes and broke them in before the race weekend.  We bought Camelbak hydration packs and I wore the same shirt and shorts that I did in Ohio. My son trained a lot more than I did but I did what I could – or so I thought.

The weekend arrived and we drove the 7 hours to Asheville which is a nice city in a beautiful part of the US. It’s close to Smokey Mountains National Park and is a sight to see. We drove down on Thursday and went to Biltmore Estate on Friday. That place is incredible! We drove out to the event site at Black Mountain and couldn’t see much of the course but at least knew where to go. We carbo loaded with pasta at dinner and hit the sack early for a busy day.

We arrived at the site and checked in. We saw some of the elite racers finish which was very cool. Once it was time to load into the corral we lined up and got ready. In what now seems to be a trend I again struggled to get over the wall into the corral. So much for my training, huh?  LOL.  We were in the same heat as NFL star Randy Moss which was neat to know Spartan is an equalizer between someone like Randy and the common man. We were off and my running helped as I was able to run along with the group up to the creek crossing. I was feeling pretty good and was thinking “I got this” AROO!

It didn’t take long before the tough obstacles and the wicked entity that is Black Mountain kicked in. We were scrambling over boulders, walking up dry (and wet) creek beds with plenty of obstacles along the way. I saw what I learned were called “Adaptive Athletes” who have physical challenges like amputees and others. Some were being helped by guys in full turn out military gear. Impressive as anything I have seen and helped steel my mind to finishing the race. Some were from OperationEnduring Warrior. These people are real heroes and me bitching about being fat and these races being hard is nothing compared to their stories.

We finally reached a plateau of an old quarry where there were more obstacles and what I assumed (LOL) was the top of the course. We had a wicked bucket brigade up and down part of the mountain and it was brutal. I soon realized that this was NOT the top of Black Mountain and surely we were not going all the way up there. I ground my way to the top over what was a very steep trail. It was tough, I was cramping in my legs even though I was hydrated and I learned about the power of mustard. It helps with craps and I now race with mustard as a precaution. (Weird, right?!) We started the way down Black Mountain and it was a nice gentle slope and I was cruising thinking I am on Easy Street. Then we turned into the woods and my descent into darkness began. We were going down single track trails at 40 degree slopes for a LONG time. It felt like eternity and we were stacked up to where you couldn’t move until the person in front of you moved. We eventually made it down with my knees screaming and ankles sore from the angle and met more obstacles. One that really sticks with me is the vertical cargo net where I watched the Operation Enduring Warrior team help the athlete climb over the net *with* his German Shepard. My hat’s off to those guys – AROO!

I limped and gimped my way through the rest of the course with TONs of burpees to be had. I failed
new obstacles like the Tyrolean Traverse and barely jumped across the fire at the end. All told I spent 8 hours and 5 minutes on the course. That my friends is a long, hard day. My son swears it was a 10 mile course but I am pretty sure it was closer to 500 miles. Maybe 495 give or take a few.

At the finish I felt the same mix of emotions and a great feeling of accomplishment. I finished it, survived and pushed myself to a new level. As Spartan CEO and founder Joe DeSena says – I set a new frame of reference. *This* became my new gauge for how hard something is. Honestly, it still is 7 months later.  We made our way back to the hotel and got cleaned up.  We ate dinner with the family and neither of us had any issues falling asleep with the satisfaction of a job well done.

The next day we went to breakfast and saw a lot of other Spartans at Denny’s and then headed off for
a nice drive through the Blue Ridge Parkway. I love mountains and living in Ohio we don’t get a lot of opportunity to enjoy them as much as I would like. After dinner, and this is no joke – we booked our Beast race before we went to bed just a day after the sufferfest of Asheville! We couldn't have a 2/3rds finished Trifecta. I'd say we are hooked.

Read My Spartan Story - Part 1 or continue to Part 3

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Benefits of VMware Certification

This is hard to get my head around, but I have been doing IT for 25 years. In that time I have had the opportunity to get certified from multiple vendors. I remember my first one (you always do!) and it was IBM Baseband networking.  I was working for what was at the time, a local computer retailer, MicroCenter when they had two stores. I had just been hired as a build engineer. I was the guy in back putting together the PC components the sales team just sold you. I was talking with one of the senior technical support specialists about career pathing and networking came up as a topic. I found I could get free training from IBM, take a test, mail it in and get certified. Yeah, I know – 25 years ago, remember?

I learned the value of vendor certification as a method to advance my career and test my knowledge. I became certified on Okidata printers, HP Laserjets and many, many more consumer electronics. I
changed jobs to one working for a Novell reseller where their requirement was that everyone be a Certified Netware Engineer (CNE).  I had already bought the student kit for the first test in the series called Networking Fundamentals. I paid for it myself using money I originally planned to use for college and if I recall correctly, it was $1,100. This very act showed to my potential employer that I was serious about getting the certification and getting a job with them.  I earned additional certifications (ECNE, MCNE, various levels of CNE like 3, 4 and 5) all through self-study and only being reimbursed for testing fees if I passed the exam.  That was great incentive as someone starting out in IT!

I set my goals on the holy grail of networking certifications, the Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE). I was working for a partner at the time where they supported me by paying for classes and tests but they stopped short on buying the hardware required to get past the difficult CCIE lab. After a discussion with the lab proctor I convinced my wife, who has ALWAYS been supportive of my certification goals, to invest over $5,000 in used Cisco gear. We chose to make the investment in my certification with the hopes that it would pay off in increased opportunity, salary and viability in the work force. I passed and earned CCIE #5851 on April 28, 2000 in Routing & Switching.  I went on to get a second CCIE in Storage Networking when I was at Cisco.

By now you have either checked  out or are wondering what this has to do with VMware.  Let’s get to that point specifically. My first VMware certification was a VCP3 when I worked for Cisco and we were doing Nexus 1000v networking.  I found it odd that VMware forced me to go to a class before I could take the test and get their certification as that was not what Cisco did. I am glad I did as I learned a TON about vSphere in the class and still hard a hard time with the test.  Having this certification helped me design and build N1K networks and have some credibility with our customers. I also could speak their language and understand many of the challenges they faced.

Fast forward a few years and as a new VMware employee focused on NSX I had a new certification track to undertake. I started with the VCP-NV which I passed a few months after NSX hands on, internal training that counted as taking ICM and talking about the product almost daily. I could have easily stopped there, but didn’t.  VMware has the VCIX-NV which is a much more hands on exam. I had been working with NSX for almost a year on a regular basis and still didn’t pass the first time. It’s a tough exam and I also had the opportunity to help develop the current version of the exam. (Sorry! - 😉)  My VCIX was transformed into a VMware Certified Advanced Professional (VCAP6-NV) recently as part of a certification alignment. 

The VCIX-NV/VCAP6-NV really helped me raise my game. I had to dig deeper into the product and it helps with customers who are familiar with the certification. They know I’m not just some dude off of the street but have made the time and financial commitment to earn the certification.

I am a big fan of vendor certification and over my years in the industry I have made the financial decisions and certainly time and effort commitments to earn them. They have opened so many doors for me that very well could have remained closed just simply by having these certifications. Novell, Cisco and now VMware, the song remains the same. There is tremendous value in certification.  My next goal is VMware’s highest certification the VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX).  Yes, it is expensive and yes it is a lot of work. That doesn’t change my mind on the value. I’ve learned over 25 years that it’ll be worth it – it always is.

Let’s hear your comments on certification.

My Spartan Story – Part 1

It’s March of 2017 and I recently completed my 4th Spartan Race event at Greek Peak ski resort in Ithaca New York. My son and I drive 500+ miles one way to compete in this first ever winter event Spartan has done in the US. What in the world would possess us to do this?  If you are interested, read on.