PowerShell OnTap Cmdlets: Soooo close!

The good news, I’m almost done with the initial wave of Powershell OnTap cmdlets.  Even better I talked to Adam Weigert the author of the Powershell Ontap API wrapper, and he’s agreed to add my cmdlets to the original project.  The bad news I still have some QA to perform and documentation to complete…  In the interim, a transcript of my PowerShell session this morning!

I had the task of setting up a test LUN so Andrew and I could work on some array based snapshot’s (more to come once we figure it out).  The Names have been changed to protect my customers, but you should be able to get a feel for the cmdlets.

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xVM, LDOMs, Zones: Sun’s slightly confusing SPARC virtualization offerings

One of my long term tasks has been to figure out how to effectively virtualize our SPARC infrastructure. Turns out it isn’t as easy as I originally thought it would be, mostly because of Solaris 8 and the fact that I can’t get rid of it :). Don’t ask me why (cause it irritates me to no end…) but I can not convince the stodgy Solaris 8 admins that their binaries will run in Solaris 10 without modification.

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Blades and Virtual Infrastructure: Who thought this was a good idea?

Blade servers are all the rage these days, but let’s jump back a bit and remember the original intent. Blades are a consolidation mechanism. The first blade servers consisted of more underpowered physical servers crammed into a smaller U (Rack Unit) footprint. Over time the chassis have become more redundant, and the blades have grown to equal their physical brethren, but the intent remains the same! Sounds a lot like the mission statement for virtualization doesn’t it? I have issues with Blade servers and virtualization:

  1. Most Datacenters don’t have enough PSC (Power, Space, and Cooling) to support blades.
  2. If you’re using virtualization then you already have a consolidation mechanism.
  3. Your upgrade path is fairly static, and exorbitantly expensive.
  4. Losing a blade center is too destructive to the IT organization.

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Have you thought about what would happen if you lost 50+% of your capacity right now?

Disaster mitigation and recovery is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. As Glenn can attest, I am extremely conservative when it comes to datacenter design…I am a firm believer in redundant redundancy.

I have almost 100% blade centers, for better or worse, in my virtualization infrastructure. Let’s assume I have four brand new blade chassis, each with 14 blades (care to guess who they’re from?), for a total of 56 blades to assimilate. Rather than assign the blades to clusters sequentially, I wanted to ensure that the loss of a blade chassis was mitigated as much as possible. To do this, as hardware is assigned to the virtual clusters and datacenters it is taken in stripes across the blade chassis.

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You Might have a memory leak if…

Your PowerShell session consumes 4GB of ram in less than 3 seconds…

Don't try this at home!
Don't try this at home!

while I didn’t think vista was suppose to allow such things.  My code caused the crash not PowerShell itself!


Update:  okay so a decimal point blew it up!  The Netapp API returns the dtg in the form of a int64.  Without adding an explicit cast powershell treated it as an int.  What does that mean? Well it’s the difference between the following:

My code…
[datetime]::FromFileTime(116444916000000000 + ($_.”last-scrub-timestamp”) * 10000000)

At run time this became:
[datetime]::FromFileTime(116444916000000000 + 1.226210494E+16)

and it blows up VERY quickly, vs:

New code:
[datetime]::FromFileTime(116444916000000000 + int64 * 10000000)

at run time:
[datetime]::FromFileTime(116444916000000000 + 12262104940000000)

Sunday, November 09, 2008 6:01:34 AM

Sometimes I just need Linux

I confess… Sometimes I just need Linux. I’ve tried everything from live disks to running an “Administrative” VM.  The main problem with all of them is the break. What would take 5 min if I could do it from within windows, takes 30min and destroys my thought process along the way.   There are tools that I can run from within windows.  Unfortunately most of them either suck or cost too much.  I don’t have room for another PC/thin client at my desk, and I’m NOT giving up my Vista rig… What to do?

Enter DSL (Damn Small Linux) I stumbled upon this little treat on accident a couple weeks back. They have many versions available and I’ve played with several, but the QEMU VM is simply brilliant.

Not only is It easily configured, but the dang thing just works.  Now when I need to modify a config file on a NetApp, or fix a VMX. I fire up DSL, it launches as a windowed app (on my vista x64 rig!).  90 seconds later I’m logged in and continue working, NO break in work flow!

Couple disclaimers: I still hate it, and think it is beyond legacy, but there is no fighting it anymore. Some form of UNIX will always be in the data center.  So for now I’m using DSL to fill that gap…  Got a better solution?


Powershell OnTAP

It just keeps getting better!  I have personally mentioned the need for a PowerShell SDK to NetApp several times.  The funny thing is both their engineers, and professional services guys never understood why I would want such a thing.  This is a weird paradox with POSIX guys.  They seem to think that connecting via ssh and writing bash scripts is all that is needed.  Sometimes Perl is invoked to provide a higher level of abstraction.  I guess their view is only Linux/Unix guys are going to want to automate this stuff.  It’s the classic windows stereotype; Windows guys only know how to drive the GUI. 

We’ll adweigert saw things differently, and has started converting the Perl SDK into a PowerShell SDK.  At this point it is still very early, but he has already added quite a bit of functionality.  The SDK is currently in the form of a single ps1 script.  Which is actual rather cool, because while I’m not a dev.  I am an OnTAP Administrator, and PowerShell scripter. I can actually contribute to this!

I’m very excited to get to work Monday and give this baby a whirl!  Check it out http://www.codeplex.com/PowerShellOnTAP


VI admins are diggin’ PowerShell

Short of walking around the Venetian shouting “anyone else like PowerShell”.  I did everything i could to evangelize the product, and find likeminded individuals.  The giant posh sticker on my laptop didn’t hurt in that regard.  The one thing I did find when talking to these guys is they are starved for content.  Sadly most of them knew only of the vmware community forums.  Don’t get me wrong Lucd is amazing, but that is just a small piece of the community.  I was very disappointed that neither Carter nor Dimitri Dmitry mentioned any of the resources out there for people. 

I was however blown away by VMware and their commitment to the product.  Quest manned a booth in VMware’s exhibit.  For three days I never saw that booth empty.  They were also handing out copies of powergui, some stickers, and a card… Hal you’ll be pleased to know that I saw many handed out, but not one on the floor.  After the PowerShell session I was talking to a couple VI admins, and one of them recommended your book to me!


(Update:  Don’t read into my post that I didn’t enjoy/value Carters presentation.  I thought it was easily top five for me, and he made the case why VI admins need to learn PowerShell.  My point was that once they start that journey.  The more tools you provide the likeier they are to succeed!  Oh yeah and sorry I mispelled your name Dmitry!)



VMworld is over and all I have to say is Amazing!  I’m still decoding my notes, and writing my post trip report for work.  Earlier when I declared to post updates during the show… I had no idea how busy I would be.  I brought my laptop the first two days, and never even booted the thing.  I filled a 200 page notebook, and my live scribe ran out of room on the last day.  All and all great trip, and should be able to provide enough value that my boss will send me back (please!)

On to the good stuff… Andrew and I went through the solutions exchange only a handful of times.  In that small time frame (maybe 6 hours) we amassed a rather impressive pile of swag.


  • 93 Pens
  • 6 golf balls
  • 7 stress balls
  • 15 1GB thumb drives
  • 4 water bottles
  • 2 USB speakers
  • 3 hats
  • 10 notebooks
  • 4 Laptop bags
  • 4 stuffed animals
  • 15 t-shirts
  • 2 laser pointers
  • 5 flashlights
  • 1 Mac book Air
  • 1 Mac super drive

On the last day of the conference after all of our sessions were done.  We did one last lap through the solutions exchange.  One particular vendor ‘vmSight’ had all these bobble head comic book figures.  I stopped to see if I could talk them out of one.  As is the tradition at these events, stopping meant getting scanned.  Mark from vmSight told me no to the toy, but did explain their product.  (Sounds very cool, I especially like being able to put hard performance numbers on a VDI implementation.) Back to the point, getting scanned entered us in a contest, and while we there Andrew won a Mac book air!  Which he is currently trying to free from osX.  Anyone know a way to boot Linux off a Mac book without boot camp?

ITIL, U-TIL, we all scream for…Configuration Management?

Ok, so the title is a little misleading. Configuration Management is a part of ITIL, however I’m not going to talk about ITIL, at least not directly.

As an administrator I’m responsible for multiple systems. Some of these are identical, e.g. Apache servers, MySQL servers, some of them provide unique, stand alone, services. However, they all have some things in common…sshd configuration, log rotation schedules (logrotated), etc.

It’s a PITA to keep up with all of these servers individually. A global change can take quite a bit of time, especially with our ever increasing number of ESX hosts. So, how do I make my job easier, myself more productive, and next year’s raise larger? Automated configuration management.

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