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Melbourne VMUG Review

Once again the Melbourne VMUG UserCon was a massive success and had some great speakers and sessions. Given that there were such IT heavy hitters as Scott Lowe (@scott_lowe), Chris Wahl (@chriswahl) and Keith Townsend (@CTOAdvisor) as well as a number of local IT stars such as Frank Fan (@frankfan7), Anthony Burke (@pandom_), Anthony Spiteri (@anthonyspiteri) and Craig Waters (@cswaters1) it’s not surprising that it was a great event

One of my goals for the day was to attend a number of the community sessions. I found the vBrownBag sessions conducted by Alastair Cooke (@demitassenz) to be the most informative and entertaining sessions of the day, along with those of Chris Wahl. The award for the funniest session of the day went to Simon Sharwood (@ssharwood) from the Register as part of the vBrownBag session. It wasn’t just entertaining but a great insight into how content is derived for the site.

I missed one of the sessions I had intended on getting to but here’s a break down of the sessions I did attend.

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Melbourne VMUG – Preview

userConn

 

The annual Melbourne VMUG UserCon takes place this Thursday, 25th February. It’s also an important day for me as it’s my wedding anniversary. I know which one my wife is more interested in! But, for the IT community in Melbourne all eyes will be on the VMUG. This years event has moved location from the old Hilton on the Park to Crown on Southbank. I think this is a good move and makes the VMUG even more accessible than in previous years. Last years guest speakers were excellent with Chad Sakac, Vaughan Stewart and John Troyer and this year it’s been lifted another notch again. This year the enterprise IT giants include Scott Lowe (@scott_lowe), Keith Townsend (@CTOAdvisor), Brad Tompkins (@VMUG_CEO) and my own personal IT hero Chris Wahl (@ChrisWahl). There’s also going to be vBrownBag sessions being hosted by Alastair Cooke (@demitassenz). If you’ve been following twitter you’ll have seen that Scott’s been having issues with flights and has had United basically crap all over his plans. Hopefully things work out for him and he can make it on time to the Sydney VMUG on Tuesday 23rd but it looks like it’ll be a close call. I wish him safe travels from here on.

VMUGs are all about the community. It’s the primary reason it exists and we’re incredibly fortunate to have the organisers volunteer their time to put on such a great event. Melbourne has some of the finest at its helm and that has been recognised globally. If you haven’t attended before I’d highly recommend fitting it into your calendar. You’ll be glad you did and your employer will be glad you did too. It’s really worth getting to the keynotes at the UserCon as unlike keynotes at other events they are not strictly vendor focused and they can provide some real insight into your industry as a whole and even your career path. But the main focus should be the community speeches. Hearing from others out in the field about the trials and tribulations they’ve had with specific technology is where the real learning takes place. These contribute a shorter part of the agenda and it’s something I’d like to see more of in future events but I also appreciate that it’s hard to get speakers for such sessions. For me this year that’ll be my focus outside of the keynotes. There are a number of vendor based sessions as well throughout the day that delve into new technology .

There’s a lot of information and knowledge to be gleaned from this event. I’d also recommend working out your agenda before attending and have a ponder over what you’d like to get out of the event. The sessions I’m planning on attending are:

Unfortunately the community sessions clash in times but if they didn’t I’d attend the following. As I can only be in one place at one time I’ll be at the Chris Wahl session.

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UCS Director 5.4 – Post upgrade NetApp storage connection issue

After a recent upgrade to UCS Director 5.4 I noticed that my storage connections were showing a status of failed on the dashboard. I went to Administration -> Physical Accounts -> Physical Accounts. All of my NetApp controllers were offline.
Netapp connection fail UCS Director
I went to edit settings and re-entered my password to make sure that it had been picked up correctly.


Netapp UCSD Edit settingsAll the settings were fine so I saved them and tested the connection to the controllers again.
NetApp UCSD Test Connection

The connection failed with the following error:

500 Connection has been shutdown: javax.net.ssl.SSLHandsakeException:

Server chose SSLv3, but that protocol version is not enabled or not supported by the client.

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How To: UCS Director 5.4 Patch 1 update

After the recent upgrade to 5.4 I decided to bite the bullet and upgrade to 5.4.1. Go to the download software portal for Cisco. Download the 5.4.1.zip patch file. I had a number of issue with the download as the checksum didn’t match. I had to take a number of attempts to get the file in-tact. I believe the issue was the ISA that acts as our internet proxy. Death to the ISA!!!!

Once the file has been downloaded copy it to your FTP server. Now it’s time to apply the patch. log onto UCS Director via either the console or SSH using the shelladmin account. Select option 3 to stop all the services.

UCSD upgrade step 1

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How To: Cisco UCS Director – 5.3 to 5.4 Upgrade

Cisco announced their release of UCS Director 5.4 back in November. As I’m currently running 5.3 and ran into an issue with a workflow Cisco support recommended upgrading to 5.4. I had a look over the Cisco UCS Director 5.4 Release Notes and there’s a new version of Java and the CentOS operating system are newer in the latest version. Due to this the upgrade procedure for 5.4 is different from previous version. In earlier versions it was possible to upload a patch via shelladmin and it would upgrade the software and database schema in place. 5.4 however requires new appliances to be deployed and a migration of database files etc. to be done between the 5.3 and 5.4 versions.

I really think that Cisco needs to look at using a HTML 5 console in the future as this upgrade path is overly complicated. Considering a lot of companies want you to be on the latest version when opening support calls, including Cisco, it would make sense for them to make it easier to perform the required upgrades.

The primary changes that have caused the modification to the upgrade path are:

  • CentOS version 5.4 to version 6.6
  • Java version 1.6 to version 1.8

Another thing to note is that version 5.54 requires 12GB RAM.

Cisco recommend standing up  the new appliances beside your current UCS Director and Bare-Metal Appliances and performing a migration. In my case there’s a few firewall rule etc already been created for the existing environment so I wanted to keep the same IP addresses and machine names. I changed the IP addresses of the current appliances to be something else within the same subnet and gave the new appliances temporary names but the existing IP addresses. Once everything had been migrated and the changes confirmed I was able to rename the appliances to be the existing ones and removed the older appliances from the infrastructure. Before commencing the upgrade I also had a sold read over the UCS Director Upgrade 5.4 Guide and the UCS Director Bare-Metal Agent 5.4 Upgrade Guide

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The 2016 Hit List

Scott Lowe, who is a well know IT contributor, recently released a post about his 2016 Projects. While I don’t have any intention of writing a book this year his post did get me thinking about what I’d like to work on this year and what goals I want to aim for. Truth be told it’s been something that I’ve been thinking about since the Xmas period but I’ve been having a bit of a writers block for the past month so I’ve only gotten around to this now.

So here they are, the goals I’m making myself accountable to for the next 11 months.

1. Blog more

Last year was my first real attempt to blog regularly and I have to admit that it was sometimes hard to find the time to write down all the blog ideas I have in my head. In total I published 56 blog posts on virtualnotions which is actually more than I had expected at roughly 1 a week. This year I want to build on the foundation of last year and work at releasing more content. One thing I really want to ensure is the quality remains high. I was a bit surprised by the buzz I got from posting some new content and seeing the readership rise for various posts. The site traffic jumped around March of last year and steadily grew for the remainder of the year. The number of visitors isn’t going to break any blog records but it’s been satisfying watch it grow and has provided encouragement to keep going.

2. Get back on the certification trail

During the past couple of years I’ve let this aspect of my career drop a bit. This is largely down to motivation and starting a family. Having kids, as I’m sure many are well aware, really destroys the free time that existed before kids. Now that they are growing and most importantly healthy, I want to put some focus back on certifications. I know for many certifications are seen to be unnecessary but I’m using them as learning tools. I’ve expanded my knowledge over the past few years into different technology and the key certs I will work on will be to further expand and solidify my knowledge in those areas. The ones I’ll be working towards are CCNA DC, NetApp NCDA and re-certify for VMware VCP. I want to also start working towards VMware VCAP-6 which I want to complete next year. All of these certs are big undertakings but once I get into the study zone it should hopefully make it easier to complete a few of them in succession.

3. Community participation Read More

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Cisco Champion 2016

CiscoChampion Header

Last Saturday I awoke to find an email from Cisco Champions Program welcoming me into the Cisco Champions community for 2016. I feel humbled, honoured and excited to be selected to be part of this community. This is my first time being nominated as a Cisco Champion and for me personally it shows that I’m progressing in the direction I wished in my career.

When I began this blog a couple of years ago mainly as a drop zone for documenting technical issues I ran into I couldn’t have dreamed that I would have ended up making a contribution to the greater IT community.

For 2016 I want to continue my level of participation in the community via this blog and hopefully expand to participating in podcasts. On a local level I want to contribute more in the virtualization, data center and automation communities. And from a personal level I want to interact with the other Cisco Champions and expand my knowledge of Cisco solutions and services.

Well done to all the other Cisco Champions, particularly the other novices. It’s going to be a blast. I’m looking forward to attend CLMEL later this year as a Cisco Champion.

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Cisco UCS – Unable to deploy Service Profile from Template – [FSM:Failed] Configuring service profile

I was recently deploying new blades within the UCS chassis but found that I was unable to. In one UCS domain there were no issues but in the second UCS domain if failed with the error [FSM:Failed] Configuring service profile xxx (FSM:sam:dme:LsServerConfigure) and there were a number of other minor warnings as well. The service profile would appear in the list but it was highlighted as having an issue and it could not be assigned to any blades. After a bit of searching around I found an answer on the Cisco Communities forum.

FSM failed

I also created a tech support file and downloaded it to my desktop, extracted the compressed files and opened sam_techsupportinfo in notepad. I did a search for errors and found that there was an issue resolving default identified from UCS Central.

UCS-SP-deploy-fail-1

The solution was to unregister the server from UCS Central and then to deploy the Service Profile again. To unregister from UCS Central go to Admin Tab -> Communication Management -> UCS Central and select Unregister from UCS Central. Before unregistering make sure that the Policy resolution controls are how you want them to be. In my case they were all set to local so unregistering from UCS Central had to real impact. Many users will have UCS Central integration configured to work as it was designed and will use Global policies. Unregistering from UCS Central can have a knock on impact on how those policies are managed.

UCS-SP-deploy-fail-2

fsm-fail-UCS-Central-unregister

Once the unregister had completed I ran the service profile deployment from template and it worked this time. I believe the issue is down to a time sync issue between UCS and UCS Central. I’m currently working on a permanent work around

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Blogs, community and other skills

Early this year I decided to up the ante a bit on my level of blogging. While I had really started to take it a bit more seriously the year before I wanted to make a concerted effort this year. During the months running up to the end of 2014 the traffic on the blog had grown quite significantly from what it had previously been. This was at a point when I wasn’t putting out any content all that regularly so it came as a surprise and encouraged me to think about creating more content. Anthony Burke over at NetworkInferno, a great blog if you get some downtime to have a flick through, wrote an article earlier this year which completely summed up my reasons for doing a blog. It’s called VMUG, Community and you (me). In that post Anthony talks about his VMUG contribution, his blog, career and how other skills have developed. All thanks to taking an active part in the community.

For me, I basically use the blog as a means to share my thoughts and experiences and probably most importantly as a way to cure professional isolation, similar to Anthony. I also see it as a way to provide assistance to someone else who may face similar challenges. I’ve been lucky enough to have been dug out of some holes thanks to someone else taking the time to write up their experiences and fixes to problems and I feel it’s only right that I reciprocate. Maintaining a blog and setting myself challenges to produce x number of blog posts does not come naturally to me. Writing doesn’t come naturally to me. It’s something I’ve struggled with but I’ve found that writing blog posts has been a great way of forcing me to be more concise. Another upside, and this is invaluable really, is that it has helped me formulate my opinions and understanding of technology. Through researching topics to ensure that what I’m writing is accurate I’ve gained a far more in-depth understanding of the core concepts of a number of technologies and this has without doubt made me a better employee.

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VMware Metro Storage Cluster Overview

VMware Metro Storage Cluster

VMware Metro Storage Cluster (vMSC) allows vCenter to stretch across two data centers in geographically dispersed locations. In normal circumstances, in vSphere 5.5 and below at least, vCenter would be deployed in Link-Mode so two vCenters can be managed as one. However, with vMSC it’s possible to have one vCenter manage all resources across two sites and leverage the underlying stretch storage and networking infrastructures. I’ve done previous blogs on NetApp MetroCluster to describe how a stretched storage cluster is spread across two disparate data centers. I’d also recommend reading a previous post done on vMSC by Paul Meehan over on www.virtualizationsoftware.com. The idea behind this post is to provide the VMware view for the MetroCluster posts and to give a better idea on how MetroCluster storage links into virtualization environments.

The main benefit of a stretched cluster is that it enables workload and resource balancing across datacenters. This helps companies to reach almost zero RTO and RPOs and ensure uptime of critical systems as workloads can be migrated easing using vMotion and Storage vMotion. One thing to keep in mind regarding vMSC, it’s not really sold as a disaster recover solution but rather a disaster avoidance solution when linked with the underlying storage. Some of the other benefits of a stretched cluster are:

  • Workload mobility
  • Cross-site automated load balancing
  • Enhanced downtime avoidance
  • Disaster avoidance
  • System uptime and high availability

There are a number of storage vendors that provide the back-end storage required for a vMSC to work. I won’t go into the entire list but you can find out more on the VMware Compatibility Matrix site. The one that I have experience with is NetApp MetroCluster but I know of others from EMC and Hitachi at least. So what components make up a vMSC? It comes down to an extended layer 2 network across data centers so that vMotions can take place with ease and also a resilient storage platform connected to ESXi via VMFS or NFS datastores. VMware vCenter itself does need some configuration changes but it’s nothing outside the scope of what a regular VMware admin can implement. A view of what a vMSC looks like is below. The networking and storage components have been simplified.

fabric metro cluster diagram

 

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