VMworld Labs: Hands-On

First off, Happy VMworld everyone! It’s finally here, so let the socialization, learning and exhaustion begin.

I had a bit of free time this morning so I decided to do a lab. I didn’t arrive early enough to get in on the preview like some others, however even after seeing their posts about it the labs floor is quite impressive. From the seats arranged so that everyone can see the projectors, to the apparent “control center” in the middle, it’s an impressive setup.

I chose lab 20…logging in was painless and provisioning of the virtual machines was extremely quick. Access was also very good, initially anyway…more on that in a bit. Progress through the lab was quick, directions were good, screen shots were accurate and quickly identified the key fields that needed to have data entry done.

Overall, I really enjoyed the lab. In the last couple of years I haven’t done very many of them simply because most of the inability to get in. This year I had zero wait, and there were a few free seats around me. The dual monitor thin clients work well and PCoIP is amazing…

On that not so subtle transition, apparently the section I was in was running off the DC cloud. For the first 75% of the lab, I couldn’t tell…in fact, if the WAN (I assume it was the WAN) hadn’t of had some issues, I would have never known. Even when things started to go south and I could tell that latency was through the roof, the session was still usable, slow, but usable. At one point the client lost connectivity, however it quickly regained and started the session exactly where I left off.

I’m incredibly impressed with the labs…it’s my first real work done on a thin client, over PCoIP using a “cloud” infrastructure. If the provisioning of virtual machines works in the private cloud like it did for me today on VMware’s lab cloud, then we have a lot to look forward to in the future!

Outstanding work as always Labs Team, thank you!

VMworld: Monday (Developer Day)

I can honestly say that I capitalized on a once in a lifetime opportunity.  For what ever reason Dev day was small this year.  There where only around 300 of us on the Developer track, and while the superstars of Virtualization were all looping through PTAP sessions I was attending small 15 to 1 labs with the likes of Steve Jin, Scott Herold, Carter Shanklin, LucD, and Cody Bunch…  You could say I learned a thing or two!

I started Monday with DS-13 it was suppose to be an Introduction to the vSphere Webservices SDK .  Unfortunately system errors prevented Steve from giving his full presentation!  My first lab I spent 45m trying to log into my virtual desktop.  It wasn’t a total lost though as I had Access to one of the authoritative sources on the VI API!  Shortly after Steve’s session I got a little side tracked, and picked my schedule back up with DS-16.

DS-16 Extending PowerCLI to Enterprise Applications with Virtualization EcoShell (VESI) presented by Scott Herold.  This session proved to be my favorite from Monday, and ran an hour long (in a good way)!  Good news, Scott and his team have done some fantastic work.  He is attempting to develop on demand.  Meaning as a demand for a feature/need starts to bubble up from the community either from the VESI forums or the usual places.  Scott fills that gap with a custom script extending the PowerCLI, or by modifying the user interface itself, extending VESI to better match the needs of the virtual administrator.  An example of the latter was on display where the VESI team has added the ability to transform any data set into rich charts. An important distinction with VESI is it is meant to enable the Virtualization Administrator NOT the VI Admin!  VESI will have full support for any Hypervisor/mgmt framework that the community has demand for.  It will also encompass any peripheral components of the virtual world.  Providing easy to use and context relevant access to any pain point whether it be storage, Network, AD… What ever the community needs!

The cynic out there will ask okay what does Vizioncore get out of this?  the answer, A single pane of glass that encompasses the entire virtualization ecosystem.  Oh yeah, and that pane of glass, it will one day serve as the front end for all of Vizioncores products!  The question was asked about pricing, and Scott insists that “VESI is and always will remain free”.  They need this framework for there own internal roadmap.  It’s extension to the community as a whole in my opinion will garnish them nothing but good will, and a built in user base.  Your probably asking yourself where’s the bad?

Politics… anyone from the PowerShell community will immediately recognize the VESI interface.  It’s our old friend PowerGUI, I asked Scott why something new, why not just build on top of PowerGUI.  His answer was speed, the PowerGUI team has a product roadmap, and there users need different things then Scotts.  He used the upcoming charts feature as an example.  It could take PowerGUI 18 months to get charts on there roadmap. PowerGUI is already hard at work putting out other fires.  By Scott forking PowerGUI he created a divisions but that division purchased an independent product roadmap.  It’s this roadmap that is enabling him to move with the Virtualization Community.  The sad part to me I don’t believe the division was truly necessary.  Why Scotts team couldn’t just develop those same features, injecting them into PowerGUI as needed, and thereby enhancing both products at once… that can only be political.  We all know how software works. There is no technical reason preventing this.  Alas while I think a best of both worlds super PowerGUI would have been better for everyone.  I for one am glad to have VESI in our tool belt. If your new to PowerShell or the PowerCLI check it out as Carter put it “VESI is the onramp to PowerCLI and PowerShell Scripting”… Couldn’t agree more!

Finally I ended Monday with a session on VIX.  while there is some really cool stuff coming in VIX there has been no change for the PowerShell community.  The latest version of VIX shipped just last week, and sadly 1.7 still offers no .Net/vi sdk interfaces. The .COM interface is critically crippled if you want to use it with vSphere, and overall your still forced to provide a username/Password to the guest OS.  Alas it’s not nearly as bad as I made it out to be! 😉

The 1.7 release added full support for vSphere 4.0, and the VIX team is currently evaluating SSIP/Certification based authentication for the guest.  As for how it will ultimately be extended into powershell it looks like either a .net class, or by extending the vi api.  Either way will be a win for powershell as we can easily extend either into first-class cmdlets!  The use case for VIX is a bit nitch, but when you need it nothing else will do!

An interesting tidbit if you’re super security cautious you can disable VIX by adding

“Guest.Command.Enabled”=”False”

to either the VM or the host.  Be aware that this WILL break upgrading of VMware tools, and Guest customization as they both use vix as the underlying technology!

So that’s Developer day at VMworld all in all I had a blast, and met the superstars of the VI API/vSphere automation community.  The Food was 10x better then what they’re serving here at VMworld, and I get a free license of vSphere!  All for $249 USD, if you’re interested in more advanced automation at the vi api level I highly recommend developer day. 

VMware this was a win, win… let’s try and keep it for the future.

~Glenn

VMworld here we come!

Last year Andrew talked our employer into sending us to VMworld.   We followed up that amazing week with several whitepapers, and a year of being ahead of the curve.  Apparently we did something right because VMworld 2009 here we come!  Last year my goal for the show was to gather a better understanding for how other VI Administrators worked.  To assess where we were in both process, and execution.  This year I have a stack of stuff I want to get into.

Processes:
I want to find what others use for VM Request/Provisioning?  Lab manager Is great but that only covers my developers.  What about joe admin or a new customer? Is there anything that competes with lifecycle manager(Quest had to buy something :D).  Additionally, we’ve seem to reach a critical mass, and charge back (at least the math behind it) will be of interest to me in particular.  While I don’t think we’ll ever charge per division, I would like to be able to show the cost in datacenter capacity every VM is consuming.

Technology:
I chose to skip the first round of VDI… It’s been a year time to look at VMware View.  What’s the report card is VDI ready for primetime, or is Citrix still my best bang for the buck, are there any new players I never heard of? Sticking with VDI, anything new in thin clients that I care about (doubtful), but then again you never know.  I also need to take a fresh look at I/O virtualization. I spoke with the NextIO guys last year, and left excited, but I never got to that part of our datacenter… Maybe this year.  All of that isn’t even addressing any storage, network, but I have a separate list for Cisco, and NetApp!

Dev Day:
I’m really looking forward to Monday.  You can keep your NDA, and partner track.  I want to spend a day with the other SDK/Automation geeks.  Perhaps I can find some fellow PowerShell enthusiast in the crowd.

People:
Finally, I’m hoping to meet you People!  Last year I was fairly new to VMware, and was rather uneasy about the whole thing.   A year later I’m much more familiar with the Virtualization Community, and I hope to get to meet you in person.  Especially, the PowerCLI enthusiast our there… not to be too cocky, but I called it, and while I’m no LucD… I know a thing or two about PowerShell, and would love to talk!

See ya at the show,
~Glenn

Monday
10:45 AM-11:30 AM DE-04 Developing vApps and Virtual Appliances using VMware Studio 2.0
1:30 PM-2:15 PM VS-02 Hardware Health Monitoring
2:30 PM-3:30 PM VS-03 Integration Best Practices for vSphere Web Services SDK
3:45 PM-4:45 PM VS-04 vSphere API for Performance Monitoring
Tuesday
10:00 AM-12:00 PM LAB03 VMware View Advanced Config & Troubleshooting
1:30 PM-2:30 PM TA3438 Top 10 Performance Features of VMware vSphere 4
3:00 PM-4:00 PM TA2713 Safe At Any Speed with VMware DRS & DPM
4:30 PM-5:30 PM TA2623 Enhanced Storage VMotion in vSphere 4
5:30 PM-7:00 PM VM2241 Managing vSphere with VMware PowerCLI
Wednesday
3:00 PM-5:00 PM LAB11 VMware vCenter Chargeback
Thursday
11:30 AM-12:30 PM TA4341 Virtual Network Performance
3:00 PM-4:00 PM TA2650 Take PowerCLI to the Next Level
4:00 PM-5:30 PM TA2963 ESXtop for Advanced Users

VMworld 2008

Sunday, Andrew and I depart for five days of geekin it up goodness.  We will try and post updates through the conference.  I figure we’re going to take notes anyways what’s the difference?  If you want to follow us on twitter we’re http://twitter.com/glnsize, and http://twitter.com/acsulli.

I plan on spending most of my time talking to fellow admins.  I need to gauge what we’re doing in respect to the industry… After the small talk, you’ll probably find me in anything that has the words; PowerShell, Tech Preview, NetApp, Cisco, Exchange, or Active Directory… oh and Beer!

My schedule:

Tuesday:

10:00 -11:00 — EA2372   —  Virtualizing Big Applications” – Performance Considerations” 
11:00 -12:00 — KN Cisco —  Designing the Next Generation Data Center – Cisco and VMware
13:00 -14:00 — AD2764  — Managing VMware with PowerShell
14:30 -15:30 — TA1402   —  Introduction to Storage VMotion
16:00 -17:00 — TA2421  —  DRS Technical Overview and Best Practices

Wednesday:

09:30 -11:30 — Lab05    —  VMware Infrastructure  – Security Hardening & Best Practices(VMware VirtualCenter ” VMware ESX & VMware ESXi”)
11:30 -12:30 — PO1861  — VMTN Community Experts
13:00 -14:00 — TA1405  — VMotion Technical Deep Dive
15:00 -16:00 — TA2275  — Tech Preview:  VMware Infrastructure Virtual Networking Future Directions
16:00 -17:00 — TA2377  — Performance Roundtable hosted by the Chief Performance Architect

Thursday:

09:30 -11:30 — Lab09    —  Scripting VMware Infrastructure: Automating, Integrating, and Extending VI
13:00 -14:00 — TA2213 — VMware Infrastructure 3 Storage:  iSCSI Implementation and Best Practices
14:00 -15:00 — VD2345 — Going Deep on Capturing Applications using ThinApp

VMworld 2008 BABY!!

 

I love my Job!!! I’m currently involved in our virtualization initiative… Were still in the crawling stage eight ESX hosts in two DRS clusters.  In the traditional admin mantra we’ve rebuilt our whole infrastructure four or five times.  After reading white papers till 2am, and tearing my hair out over configuration mistakes (Google ESX partition offset). My boss decided to just send us to VMworld!

Snoopy Dance!!!

~Glenn