EP8 – Expect The Unexpected

In episode eight of The VCDX Podcast, we’ll be hearing from our special guest about their recent VCDX defense experience and how it was actually quite a bit different from the experience they were expecting.

News & Updates

Congratulations to the 2 new VCDX’s:

Up and coming VCDX Workshops

Interview Notes & Links

This week’s special guest is Veronica Davis (VCDX #280)

Common VCDX Mistakes

  • “That was planned for phase 2 of this project” or “That was out of scope for this projcet”

Q&A

AS always, if you have any questions you want answering on the Podcast, please send them to me via the two options below:

I’m always looking for feedback and ways to improve the podcast, so please, contact me with any thoughts and feedback you might have. If you enjoyed this episode, please remember to subscribe (using the links below) and let others know about it on social media.

Why Datrium’s Automatrix Platform Is “Too Good To Be True!”

During my time at Datrium, I’ve been hearing more and more CIO’s and Head’s of IT say the following line whilst our Sales teams are pitching the Datrium Automatrix Platform.

This sounds too good to be true!

The reason why Automatrix is classed as “too good to be true” is because of what we as an IT industry have become accustomed to. We accept and expect IT systems to be complex to manage, maintain and require training to operate. It’s a given that you will need to use multiple vendor solutions in order to meet your business requirements.

So when a solution is presented to us that contradicts our many years of IT experience, we immediately pass it off as “too good to be true”, even if in fact, it is true!

Take for example VMware. We all know and love VMware and their products. However, it didn’t always use to be this way. Back in the early early days of VMware, adoption of VMware Server, as it was called then, was almost limited to use as a Disaster Recovery option as it wasn’t deemed something that could be used in production. Not because it wasn’t production-ready, but because it was “too good to be true” and no one believed that it could do what VMware said it could do.

It’s frustrating when you know first-hand how good something is, but other people don’t seem to want to listen to what you are telling them, especially when you know that they will benefit from it.

I recently read a fantastic article from James Clear; Why Don’t Facts Change Our Minds and I think much of what James talks about in his article relates to what I am seeing within the industry.

Truth and accuracy are not the only things that matter to the human mind. Humans also seem to have a deep desire to belong. Humans are herd animals. We want to fit in, to bond with others, and to earn the respect and approval of our peers. We don’t always believe things because they are correct. Sometimes we believe things because they make us look good to the people we care about.

If a brain anticipates that it will be rewarded for adopting a particular belief, it’s perfectly happy to do so, and doesn’t much care where the reward comes from — whether it’s pragmatic (better outcomes resulting from better decisions), social (better treatment from one’s peers), or some mix of the two.”

I think because of what James talks about, IT folk find it difficult to go against the status quo, even if a new product can be highly beneficial to a business. And I get it. We all want to fit in and be accepted by others, even if it holds many of us back.

its-better-to-walk-alone-than-with-a-crowd-going-in-the-wrong-direction

Summary

During my time in the industry, I’ve actually found that going against the crowd, whilst as difficult as it is, can often bring us the most success. Not everything works out, but when it does, it’s massive and usually a game-changer for you and your company.

So if you see/hear something that you think “This is too good to be true!”, don’t just push it aside. It could actually be true and you are going miss out on all of the value you will get from it. Take the pragmatic approach. Dig deeper. This could be a diamond in the rough.

Datrium is not “too good to be true!”. It is actually true! We can prove it. If you’ll let us of course.

Here are some fun (non-IT) examples of where I wished I had taken the pragmatic approach rather than listening to my social circles.

  • Cold Brew Coffee – Growing up in England, Coffee was always hot. If it was cold, you’d pour it away. Now I can’t get enough of the stuff!
  • Tempur-Pedic Mattress – Quite possibly one of the best purchases I ever made. They cost an arm and a leg, but OMG it’s soo comfortable. Even though TV commercials told me how good they were, I thought they were “Too good to be true”. Then I had a hotel room with one in and I’ve never looked back.
  • Yeti Tumbler – How good can a cup really be? Do I really need my drink to be kept cold/hot? I thought not. I got one as a gift for my birthday and I’ve pretty much used it every day since. I’ve even brought one for other people I know who’d love it, but like me, thought it was “Too good to be true”.

 

 

 

 

Why I’ve Hardly Blogged Over The Past Year, And It’s All Datrium’s Fault!

Keeping It SimpleLately, I’ve had a few people ask me “How come you aren’t blogging much anymore?”  My typical response to that question is usually “I’ve not really had much to post about!” Which, when I think about it, really doesn’t make sense. I joined Datrium a year ago, and since joining, it’s been a near-vertical learning curve, working on some ground-breaking technologies. So why don’t I feel like I have anything to blog about?

Well, over the past 10 years, my main reason for blogging was to share knowledge with others around, usually, complex technical issues and configurations. Some examples from the past few years:

So, this leads me to why I’ve not really posted much since joining at Datrium.

Why blame Datrium?

Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome To The VCDX Podcast

Hey guys, I just wanted to bring to your attention a new project that I am working on called The VCDX Podcast. Yep, another Podcast.

As a VCDX panelist, I get asked a lot of questions related to the VCDX certification and the overall process. So I decided, instead of answering every question individually, I would answer them on a Podcast for all to hear and learn from.

The Podcast currently consists of 4 sections and this will probably change as the Podcast matures.

  1. VCDX News and Updates
  2. Special Guest Interview – With a mixture of VCDX panelists, mentors, and certification holders
  3. Common VCDX Mistakes
  4. Q&A

Episode 1 – Welcome To The VCDX Podcast was released last week and can be listened to or downloaded below.

The Podcast should be available where ever you get your Podcasts. Here are some quick links to the common platforms.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | TuneIn | Spotify

As with everything I write about, please provide feedback or ideas on how to improve the Podcast. If you have questions that you want answering, you can either message me on Twitter: @SimonLong_ or you can send me an email via my Contact Simon page

vMotion Error – Failed to receive migration

I recently ran into a situation, when after adding a new ESXi Host into a vSphere Cluster that will be used for Nested ESXi, I was unable to vMotion live VM’s onto the new Host. The error message I was getting was ‘Failed to receive migration’

A quick Google search didn’t yield any results, so I had to resort to reading the logs. In the Virtual Machine log file (vmware.log) I noticed this error message: (Scroll to the right)

2019-01-10T20:31:06.254Z| vmx| I125: Msg_Post: Error
2019-01-10T20:31:06.254Z| vmx| I125: [msg.cpuid.vhv.enablemismatch] Configuration mismatch: The virtual machine cannot be restored because the snapshot was taken with VHV enabled. To restore, set vhv.enable to true.

Doing a quick search of the term: vhv.enable showed me that this is required to be set on hosts that are being used for Nested ESXi. Thanks William Lam (https://www.virtuallyghetto.com/2012/08/how-to-enable-nested-esxi-other.html)

So I ran the following command on the new ESXi Host:

echo 'vhv.enable = "TRUE"' >> /etc/vmware/config

After that configuration was added to the config file, vMotions began to function as expected.

Quick And Easy Replication For VDI Golden Images

Continuing on from my previous post; Backup, Restore And Replicate App Volumes, AppStacks And Writable Volumes another large challenge I faced running a Global Enterprise VDI environment was managing the Golden Images.

Replicating VDI Golden Images

The Challenge of Golden Image Replication

For those of you who might not be familiar with VDI environments, Golden Images are the virtual machines that virtual desktop pools are created from. If you need to add an application or make an OS customization for all of your end users, typically you will make the change in the Golden Image and then push that image out to the virtual desktops.

When a VDI environment consists of multiple sites, each separate site usually has its own instance of VMware Horizon or Citrix XenDesktop/XenApp. Each of these separate VDI instances will need their own Golden Images from which virtual desktop pools will be created. In an ideal world, being able to use the same Golden Images for all desktop pools regardless of which site they are in would make the most sense as typically the Pools are the same between sites and this will keep desktop images consistent for all end users. However, until now, this has proven difficult to achieve.

In legacy HCI environments, the replication of virtual machines is very difficult and painfully slow. The main two replication options we see being used are:

  • vSphere Content Library – Using the built-in Content Library service, vCenters can be linked to provide the replication of Golden Images between vCenters
  • Manual Export/Import – Using vCenter to export the Golden Images into an OVA/OVF template, manually copying them to the remote sites and then importing the template into vCenter

There are, however, downsides to both of these methods. In both cases, the whole Golden Image is being replicated each time an update is made. If an image is 60GB in size and there are three remote sites, that’s quite a lot of data that needs to be transferred, this usually is a very slow transfer process and can put a heavy strain on the WAN infrastructure. Additionally, when these images are copied between sites, the vSphere Snapshots are lost in the process making it very difficult to roll changes back if there are issues as all snapshot history is lost.

Golden Image Sprawl

Because of these replication challenges, what we end up seeing is Golden Image sprawl, configuration drift, and an inconsistent-user user experience. Each site has its own set of Golden Images, which are similar to the other sites, but over time the configuration of these images deviates from the other sites. These additional Golden Images also add operational overhead. Each image will need to be patched and kept up to date. The more images you have, the harder it is to keep track of them and the longer updates take to roll out.

Quick And Easy Replication using Datrium DVX

It shouldn’t be this painful. It doesn’t need to be this painful! Using Datrium DVX it only takes a few clicks to replicate Golden Images between multiple sites. The following video (5 minutes) is a brief demonstration of how simple it is to replicate a new snapshot on a Golden Image to a second site.

Some of the key benefits to understand are:

Deduplication and Compression – DVX uses the always-on global deduplication and compression service to only send the changes made to the Golden Image. Rather than sending the whole virtual machine, DVX will only send the data that has changed. This dramatically improves replication times and reduces the load on the WAN infrastructure.

Persistent vSphere Snapshots – When Golden Images are replicated between sites, so are vSphere snapshots. So each Golden Image will show the same snapshot history, regardless of the site they are in. This makes it a lot easier to rollback and forward changes.

Backup, Restore And Replicate App Volumes, AppStacks And Writable Volumes

no problemOne of the biggest challenges I faced running VMware’s internal Horizon environment, was being able to backup, restore and replicate Writeable Volumes and AppStacks. Not being able to backup and replicate Writeable Volumes meant were unable to use Writables to capture our user’s data as we were unable to copy the data to an offline backup array for archive or replicate the data to our other data centers to be used in the event of a site failure.

This is no longer a challenge using Datrium DVX.

App Volumes

App Volumes is a product offered by VMware that has two main features:

  • AppStacks – Packaged applications that get connected/disconnect to a user’s virtual desktop during login/logoff.
  • Writable Volumes – Virtual disks that get connected/disconnect to a user’s virtual desktop during login/logoff. These virtual disks capture any changes made to the virtual desktop, giving a persistent user experience in a non-persistent VDI environment.

If you are not familiar with App Volumes, have a look at this great video – VMware App Volumes Technical Overview

Both AppStacks and Writable Volumes live their lives as VMDK files. This makes it very easy to connect/disconnect them to virtual machines during the login/logoff process. However, there is a massive downside to using VMDK files. AppStacks and Writeable Volume VMDK’s are not permanently associated with a virtual machine, which makes it is almost impossible to back them up using traditional vSphere backup software. Due to limitations in the vSphere API, traditional backup solutions can only back up virtual machines and virtual disks connected to the virtual machines. If a VMDK is not connected to a virtual desktop, it cannot be backed up at scale…. Until now.

Datrium DVX

Backup and Restore Writable Volumes and AppStacks

Running your Horizon environment on a DVX platform makes backing up and restoring App Volumes AppStacks and Writable Volumes almost a single click process. Don’t believe me? Check out this video I recently captured showing the backup and restore of a Writable Volume.

Replicate Writable Volumes and AppStacks

Replicating Writables and AppStacks is also just as easy as backing up and restoring them with Datrium DVX. I’ve also created another video below to show you how simple this process is.

Summary

Using the built-in Snapshot and Replication functions of Datrium DVX will make the management of your App Volumes deployment extremely simple and straightforward. I really wish I had this technology available to me when I was running VMware’s global VDI environment as I’m pretty sure I’d have a few less gray hairs than I do now 😉

Harnessing The vCommunity To Further Your Career

Over the past 10 years, I’ve been a part of this amazing community. Without this communities support, I wouldn’t have landed my dream job as a consultant within VMware, nor become a Double VCDX. At VMworld 2018 this year, I was lucky enough to spend 20 mins talking to the vCommunity about how they can harness the vCommunity to help further their career. This session was recorded and made available online. In this session, I will share my story and highlight ways that you too can leverage our community to help you reach your career goals and aspirations.

I hope you find this useful. Feel free to message me on Twitter if you have any questions on the content or want to discuss things further.


vCommunity Twitter List

vCommunity Twitter ListIn an attempt to try and clean up my Twitter feed to make Twitter conversations and tweets a little easier to notice and follow, I followed the recommendation given to me by my followers and decided to split the Twitter accounts I follow into Lists, so they are easier to sort and categorize. One of the lists I started to put together was a vCommunity Twitter List. This list contains many of the people who make up the vCommunity. One of the cool things about Twitter Lists, is you can see people who have been added to the lists and you can Follow them on your own account. It’s a great way to find people with the same interests. As you can imagine, the vCommunity Twitter List is designed to include people who mostly tweet about Virtualization topics.

Tweet Criteria

Although this is a very informal list, as I mentioned earlier, the whole aim of this list is to remove unnecessary noise from my Twitter feed. So I need to try and put some restrictions in place.

What to Tweet

You can tweet about whatever you are interested in, I’m not going to become the Twitter Police. But ideally;

  • Virtualization topics
  • Technology topics – We are all geeks at heart

 

What not to Tweet

I understand that from time to time we all tweet about a wide variety of topics, try and limit the following, if possible.

  • Politics …zzzZZZ
  • Cat pictures
  • Endless Retweets – We want your thoughts, not just the thoughts of others.

Getting added to the list

The vCommunity Twitter List is still a work in progress and always will be. My intention is to keep this Twitter List dynamic. As new people join Twitter and start to tweet about relevant Virtualization topics, they’ll be added. And on the flip side, as people’s interests change and maybe their tweets are no longer focused on the topic of Virtualization, they will be removed.

If you want to be added to the List, please message Follow Me and message me on Twitter.

What is Datrium Cloud DVX?


Datrium Cloud DVX
In a previous post, I talked about ‘What is Datrium DVX?’. If you are not familiar with Datrium DVX, I’d recommend reading that post first as Cloud DVX integrates with on-premises DVX.

Datrium Cloud DVX

Cloud DVX is a SaaS-based service offered by Datrium that enables on-premises DVX customers to replicate backup snapshots of their virtual machines and files into public cloud storage (AWS).

By replicating snapshots of virtual machines and files to Cloud DVX, customers are ensuring their data is safely stored offsite should there be a disaster within their own private datacenter. It’s a similar concept to the good old days of tape backups; backing up data to tape drives and sending them to a 3rd party to store offsite. Except of course with DVX, everything is done automatically for you and the recovery of your data can be almost instantaneous. Read the rest of this entry »