New VMware Fling: Horizon View Auto-Connection Utility

I just wanted to bring your attention to a cool new tool that’s just been made available via VMware Flings. View Auto-Connect Utility

The View Auto-Connection Utility allows you to connect the VMware Horizon (View) Client automatically into a View desktop or an application pool when the system starts up. This can be very useful for thin clients or for turning existing Windows endpoints into thin client systems used to automatically connect into a Horizon (View) desktop.

View Auto-Connection Utility

The Horiozn View Auto-Connection Utility can be downloaded here: View Auto-Connect Utility

Using Log vRealize Insight to Collect App Volumes Logs

If you use VMware vRealize Log Insight for log management in your environment and want to capture App Volume logs, read on.

1. Install the Log Insight Agent onto each App Volumes Manager that you have in your environment
2. Edit the following file in Notepad (Or any other text editor): %ProgramData%\VMware\Log Insight Agent\liagent.ini
3. Add the following lines to the bottom of the liagent.ini

[filelog|AppVol]Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 12.35.21 PM
directory=C:\Program Files (x86)\CloudVolumes\Manager\log
exclude=svmanager_server.log

4. Save and restart the server (not 100% sure if a restart is required)

Once the App Volume Manager has been restarted you should start to see logs appear in Log Insight, as shown in the example below.

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 12.42.19 PM

For more information on custom log collection with Log Insight, check out the following page: Log Insight – Collect Events from a Log File

AppVolumes: Add Multiple App Volume Manager addresses to the App Volumes Agent

Lately I’ve been working on a Horizon (View) design which includes the use of Writeable App Volumes. If you are unsure of Writeable App Volumes are, you can read more here: http://blogs.vmware.com/consulting/2014/12/app-volumes-appstacks-vs-writable-volumes.html

I wanted to share a really cool tip that my colleague Dale Carter shared with me, which can help increase the availability of App Volumes (AppVol Mgrs) within your environment when using multiple App Volume Managers (AppVol Mgrs).

In my design [as always] I have endeavored to increase the overall availability of the various components. To achieve this with App Volumes I’ve added an additional AppVol Mgr which shares the same SQL Database as the primary AppVol Mgr. In front of both AppVol Mgrs I have placed redundant F5 BIG-IP Load-Balancers which will be used to evenly distribute the load between theAppVol Mgrs and redirect connections should one AppVol Mgr become unavailable. (See Below)

AppVol-F5

Although the F5 BIG-IP’s greatly increase the availability of my AppVol Mgrs there is still the small chance that F5 Cluster may fail. This would result in the App Volume Agent’s inside the virtual desktops being unable to communicate with the App Vol Mgrs. This is where Dales little tip comes in.

Within the Golden Master images of the virtual desktops, we can edit the Registry to add additional AppVol Mgr addresses. Within the Registry browse to: HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\services\svservice\parameters 

App Volume Agent Registry Change

Manager1 is the default AppVol Mgr URL which was entered during the Agent installation process. The default URL in my example is the vIP on the F5 BIG-IP Load-Balancers. Manager2 and Manager3 are addresses I manually added. These are the URL’s of the App Volume Managers. So if for whatever reason we lost the F5’s, the Agent’s would then attempt to access the App Vol Mgrs directly. (See Below)

AppVol-F5-agents

For other great App Volume information, visit Dale Carters website here: http://vdelboysview.com/

WANTED: Virtual Infrastructure Architect – NOW CLOSED

Job Role Applications Now Closed!

Fancy a change or a new challenge to kick off the new year? Then maybe this is for you.

The OneCloud team within VMware, the team I work in, is looking for a Virtual Infrastructure Architect to join it’s strong architects team (5 VCDX’s).

Job Description

We are seeking a Virtual Infrastructure Architect with extensive experience working in a complex computing environment to join our internal cloud Design and Architecture team. You will work as part of a team that designs and architects VMware’s next generation internal cloud infrastructure. Your focus will be working with VMware’s rack scale hyper-converged infrastructure solution to evolve their virtual infrastructure design to efficiently and effectively provide Iaas, DaaS, PaaS and Big Data solutions to enterprise customers. You will work closely with the rest of the OneCloud team to integrate VMware’s rack scale hyper-converged infrastructure solution into our IaaS platform. A thorough understanding and working experience with VMware enterprise products is required. To be successful you will need a strong technical orientation; be a creative problem solver; be motivated to advance in the field; and work well in a team-oriented environment. The tasks this individual is responsible for are often unstructured and the issues addressed are less defined, requiring new perspectives and creative approaches, and applying attained experiences and knowledge in solving problems that are complex in scope.

More information on the role can be found here: http://vmware.jobs/palo-alto-ca/virtual-infrastructure-architect-onecloud/DE2C59FD40E34059AD2D8BCF1242F454/job/

Think this is a role you could be interested in? Contact me and I’ll make sure your Resume/CV gets in front of the right people (assuming you have the right skills set for the role.)

Graphics Acceleration In Horizon View Virtual Desktops

Virtual Machine Graphics Acceleration Deployment Guide A quick heads-up about an update to a my My First Published Technical White Paper.

The paper talks about the following topics:

  • Why 3D Matters for VMware Horizon View
  • Understanding the Differences Between Soft 3D/SVGA, vDGA and vSGA
  • Prerequisites
  • Application Requirements and Use Cases
  • vSGA Installation
  • vDGA Installation (Tech Preview)
  • VMware Horizon View Pool Configuration for vSGA
  • Performance Tuning Tips
  • Resource Monitoring
  • Troubleshooting

Hopefully it should cover everything you need to enable your Horizon View desktops for 3D rendering.

The Paper can be downloaded here: Graphics Acceleration In View Virtual Desktops

Double VCDX

Double VCDXWell people, I am pleased to announce that today I got confirmation that I have just been awarded the VCDX-DT (Desktop) certification. This will go alongside my VCDX-DV (Datacenter) making me a Double VCDX (Double-X). I’m one of only five people in the world who has achieved this.

I’m pretty chuffed with that :-) Good times!

Living The American Dream

CaliforniaI’ve always wanted to try living somewhere else in the world, to get some more life experience. However up until now I’ve not been in the position to be able to do this.

But as one chapter in my life closes another chapter begins. Today I am please to announce that I have accepted a new job at VMware that will see me relocating to California (USA not Norfolk). I will be joining the OneCloud team as a Senior Cloud Architect, an exciting role which will really test me and push me to improve.

I will based in the Bay Area (AKA. Silicon Valley) At VMware’s HQ in Palo Alto. It’s an amazing opportunity and with an average of around 300 days of sunshine a year, I’d be stupid not to take it.

So at the start of May I will be taking to the sky to start living the American dream. For those of you who live in and around that area, if you have any tips that will help me settle into the US lifestyle just that little bit easier, please reach out to me or comment below.

Exciting and challenging times ahead I think you’d agree.

Telling Lies Could Actually Protect You Online

Internet SecurityWhen it comes to online security, I can safely say this is something I have been quite lax with. I’m sure many of you are in the same boat. But after reading a few different articles lately about what information is actually out there on the internet, I decided to change my stance somewhat. I’m starting to look a little closer at what I can do to try and protect myself as much as possible.

The Problem With Online Information

The problem we have is that once something is put onto the internet, it’s VERY difficult to remove it. Although the website that originally had the information my not exist anymore, there is a good chance that services such as Google Cached Pages have archived this information so it will continue to be available for years to come. For some data, page caching is great! For your personal data, not so great.

“My Password Is Strong, I’m Happy”

Lets assume we have a lot of personal information available on the internet. “So what?” you may ask. I used to ask the same question. No one knows my passwords, my Pin numbers or have access to my email account so what can they do?

We use passwords to access pretty much our online accounts, ranging from Facebook to online shopping to online banking. I can probably guarantee you that most of you re-use the same password across many of these websites. It’s got to the point where you have so many accounts it would be almost impossible not to. Whilst this is by no means ideal and very insecure, especially if one of the sites you frequent is compromised by hackers, it might just be secure enough for most of us as a good password isn’t easy to hack. However, regardless of the strength of your password, a major the security weakness is the processes that are put in place to check that you are who you say you are when you have ‘forgotten’ your password.

There are many good, secure password managers available that you can use to avoid using the same password over and over. LastPass and KeePass are a couple of good examples.

You’ll Never Forget Your First Pet

The type of checks I am referring to are the ‘Secret answers’ to generic security questions that we often have to fill in when we are signing up for online accounts. For example:

  • What is the name of your first pet?
  • What was your first car?
  • What was the name of your first school?
  • What year were you born in?

I’m sure you all recognise these questions. It’s the continued reliance by many websites on these types of questions that is the weakest link to our online security. Knowing the answers to these ‘simple’ questions will usually get you access to your online account. Someone else knowing the answers to these questions will get them access to your online account.

Social Engineering

Two-Factor AuthenticationOnline security has come on leaps and bounds in the last 5 years. There have been a lot of new technologies introduced to help keep our personal information secure and for the most part they seem to be doing a good job of it. One of the most popular ways to add another layer of security when online is the use of Two-Factor Authentication. If you use a small device that generates numbers to access your online bank accounts, you are already using two-factor authentication. You don’t always need to have a physical device for Two-Factor Authentication, your smartphone can also work in a similar way. Checkout Google 2-step Verification as a good example.

Regardless of technology advances the biggest problem we have around online security,  is You. And the main issue both we and our employers face is Social Engineering.

Social engineering, in the context of information security, refers to psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information.

Putting It All Together

Armed with your personal data found publicly on the internet an attacker can often easily answer many of those simple ‘Security’ questions without even speaking to you. Many answers can be found via peoples Facebook profiles. I recently posted a simple article with tips on Increasing your Facebook Privacy that will help reduce the amount of personal data members of the pubic can view from your Facebook profile.

If there isn’t specific information available online that an attacker might need, it can be quite easy for them to Social Engineer a conversation with you to find out the extra information. Quite often these conversation will not take place in person as we are taught from a young age ‘not to talk to strangers’. However, do we follow this advice online? How many of us have had conversations on a Facebook group page with a complete stranger? I would imagine, most of us. This is when it becomes easy for someone who we don’t even know to engage us in a conversation about something as mundane as their dog. As the conversation progesses at some point they may ask if you’ve had pets – before you know it they know the name of your first pet. It’s that easy. Such an innocent conversation about dogs can give them enough information to access one of your online accounts. And many of use wouldn’t even notice what we’d even told them.

So How Can We Protect Ourselves?

Brittany SpearsTo project ourselves, we should lie on our security questions, DO NOT USE REAL ANSWERS. It’s as simple as that and it’s a system I have been using for some time now. Make up a pet’s name that you will only use for online accounts. Websites do not know the name of your first pet. They will not know if you’re lying. Brittany Spears could have been the name of your first pet, the website is not to know that and quite frankly doesn’t care. It’s just a simple word match process.

Do this for every question, even your date of birth. Personally I use something like 01/01/91 as it’s easy to remember, but feel free to chose your own date. Your first car, put in your favourite car that you’ll never be able to afford. That way if someone was to have access to your Facebook photos and find out what your first car was from some old photos, they would always get that security question.

NOTE: For some online account such as bank accounts, the security questions such as ‘date of birth’ will need to actually be your official DOB as it’s legally part of the Banks process.

It’s a simple concept, but one that could help you be just that little bit more secure as more and more of ours life goes online.

vSphere and Hyper-V Visio stencils

Veeam LogoFor those of you who like to make pretty architecture diagrams, this might be for you. Veeam provides a FREE collection of VMware and Hyper-V virtualization Visio stencils that can be used by ESX administrators, system integrators and datacenter managers to create their own diagrams in Microsoft Visio 2003, 2007, 2010 or 2013 as part of your Hyper-V or VMware deployment planning.

You can download those stencils here: http://www.veeam.com/vmware-esx-stencils.html

Fancy A Trip Around The World?

Veeam LogoVeeam is about to get its 100,000th customer and is launching an interactive contest for a chance to win a trip around the world and other prizes (Google Glass, iPad and Microsoft Surface).

To participate, you need to register and predict the location of Veeam’s 100,000th customer on the interactive map. The closer you are to the right spot, the better chance you have to win the trip around the world and other prizes.

Veeam currently have a live pre-registration page. The main contest will start next week.

Join in on the fun!  Guess the location here: http://world.veeam.com/

For more information: http://world.veeam.com/veeam_tc_2014.pdf

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