Author Archives: Chris

Rubrik Build Workshop

Last week (end of May 2019) I was lucky enough to secure a place at the Rubrik Build Workshop in London. This event, which has been touring round the world, is a day of technical learning focussed on API, SDK, and version control.

Roxie at RubrikThe first thing to acknowledge here is even though Rubrik was hosting the event and the presenters  (the awesome pairing of Chris Wahl and Rebecca Fitzhugh) work for the company there was absolutely no sales push. Whilst they used their own APIs and SDKs as examples the majority of the content was very much platform agnostic. Kudos is due here for running this kind of free-of-charge educational event for the tech community without filling it with sales and marketing slides.

The morning started with a session on version control- looking at how git and in particular GitHub – can be used to track and share code. The “RoxieAtRubrik” GitHub account was used in some hands-on demos -we all forked a public project, made changes,  and submitted a pull request. The course material used in the workshops is publicly available via this account- check here: https://github.com/RoxieAtRubrik

There were some insights into how GitHub is used at Rubrik- there’s unit tests for every single function and in the background they have a CI (Continuous Integration) pipeline at work to make sure releases are up to scratch. Quality control can be tricky on community fed projects where developers may not be subject to traditional corporate control and it’s interesting to see how different teams handle this input.

Our dive into version control was followed by a look at how REST APIs work, using the Rubrik APIs as an example. There was plenty of hands-on activity here, with an online lab provided to simulate communicating with a real world device but in a safe environment.

Rubrik Hands on Lab Environment

The schedule of this event was flexible and after a show of hands amongst the 15 delegates we moved on to look at PowerShell, both in general terms for those new to the scripting language but also seeing how the SDK layer of the Rubrik PowerShell module made the API calls we’d looked at previously more user-friendly.

This PowerShell module is open source and available on GitHub- https://github.com/rubrikinc/rubrik-sdk-for-powershell – and as with all these projects contributions are welcome from the community. There was lots of encouragement from the presenters for customers/users to try these SDKs out and feed back any improvements that could be made, either by submitting an feature request or bug report, or by writing some or all of the addition yourself.

The European leg of the Rubrik Build tour has finished, but they’re off to Australia and New Zealand in June if that’s local to you. Check out https://build.rubrik.com/ for details.

VMworld 2018 Banner

Wear Comfortable Shoes

Ladies and Gentlemen of VMworld 2019.

Wear comfortable shoes.

If I could offer you only one tip for the conference, comfy shoes would be it.
The long term benefits of comfortable shoes have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience…
I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the knowledge and learning imparted at the breakout sessions; oh nevermind; you will not understand all the knowledge and learning imparted until you watch the recordings.
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at your notes from the event and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much technology lay before you and how fabulous that UI really looked…
You can’t fit in as many parties as you imagine.

Do one thing everyday that scares you.

Present a session.

Don’t ignore other people’s opinions, don’t put up with people who ignore yours.

Talk to people.

Don’t waste your time on free pens;
Sometimes there’s T-shirts,
Sometimes there’s LEGO.
The swag list is long, and in the end, it’s only what fits in your suitcase home that counts.

Drink plenty of water.

Maybe you’ll do the Hackathon, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll watch a vBrownbag, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll get an early night, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken at the VMworld party.
Whatever you do, don’t worry too much when someone says on-premise.
Enjoy your time at the conference, Use it every way you can… Don’t be afraid of doing new things, or what other people think of them,
Spending time wisely is the greatest investment you’ll ever make…

Use that Early Bird pricing, you’ll miss it when it’s gone.

Be nice to your peers in the vCommunity; They are the best way to learn and the people most likely to stick with you in the future

Stretch.

Go to VMworld US once, but leave before it makes you hard;
Go to VMworld EU once, but leave before it makes you soft.

Accept certain inalienable truths, vBeards will grow and turn grey, vendors will talk FUD, you too will get tired, and when you do you’ll fantasise that when you were younger vChins were clean-shaven, vendors were noble, and the flash client was the best thing since sliced bread.

But trust me on the comfortable shoes…

vRealize Log Insight Upgrade-License warning

For several years vSphere admins have been able to use the Log Insight tool for free as a “25 OSI” license was included in vCenter. This has meant that deployments of up to 24 hosts (plus vCenter) have been able to use the VMware tool as a syslog server and troubleshooting tool without having to purchase further licenses.

Due to changes in licensing this is no longer possible- see KB55980: vRealize Log Insight for vCenter Server – End of Availability (EOA). Version 4.6.x of Log Insight was the last to support this free license. This KB was released summer 2018, but now (spring 2019) it’s becoming particularly relevant because of the release cycle of vCenter.

vCenter 6.7 Update 2 has recently been released, and using the VMware product compatibility matrix you can see that this requires existing Log Insight installations to be upgraded to 4.8 as Log Insight 4.6.x (and therefore the “free” license) is not compatible. So be aware, without proper preparation patching your vCenter can break your established log management environment.

To keep running Log Insight in this environment it will be necessary to now purchase separate licenses from VMware. Talk to your re-seller or VMware account manager about this as there are options for both replacing the OSI licensing model or switching to a per-CPU model which would also enable the product to collect logs from any number of guest VMs on the licensed hosts.

Experiences using Microsoft To-Do

2019-04-11_21-39-55-MicrosoftToDOFor over a year now I’ve been using Microsoft’s To-Do application to manage and organise my tasks. This has probably been the longest I’ve stuck with a personal task manager for some time, and I believe the app has just the right amount of features for me, sitting somewhere between Outlook tasks and a more in-depth project management/ planning application. In this post I will discuss how I use the app; you might find To-Do is something you want to check out, or if you’re a current user you might find new ways to use it.

To-Do is not a heavy duty time management application, but it does allow you to manage personal tasks, set due dates or reminders, and have sub-steps if required. For example the “Deploy new Server” task might have “Buy Server”, “Rack Server”, “Configure Network”, and “Install Hypervisor” as steps.

I use the one application for both work and personal tasks, using lists to categorise these but not having a separate application to go to for my non-work tasks. This helps me balance my time focused on the job against my personal time. I believe Work-life balance isn’t just about not working in personal time. When done properly doing some personal activities in work time is balanced against when you have to work in personal time. For example I might answer the odd work email when sat on the couch in the evening, but I won’t feel guilty about instant messaging my family from the office. Microsoft To-Do has a number of features that will help here, not least “My Day”.

My Day is possibly the best feature in To-Do, and can be used similarly to a Work In Progress (WIP) panel on a Kanban board. Tasks from the different categories can all be assigned here, giving me a list of what I need to accomplish next, rather than being overwhelmed by a much longer list. This also allows me to mix those personal and work related tasks – I need to check my VMware licenses today, but I also need to book an appointment at the optician (who won’t be answering their phone when I get home tonight).

When using My Day I set the sort order to put the tasks flagged as important at the top. These are the things I’ve marked that must get done- further down the list are the lower priority things I’d like to get done today, but might not.

2019-04-11_16-06-47-MicrosoftToDo

When starting up To-Do in the morning it offers me the “For Today” listing, so I can pick the tasks I need in my list at the start of today. These may be items passed over from the day before, one’s I’ve had reminders set for today, or emails I’ve flagged and tweets or websites I picked up the evening before for follow up. With To-Do installed on my Android phone I can quickly share from the other apps, for example Twitter or Chrome to automatically create new tasks for my list.

Looking at how my task-lists have evolved, I have general “Tasks” for work related items and “Personal” for non-work ones. I also have a “Learning and Finding Out” list for all those educational links I want to fit in, and a “Blog” list for blog post ideas.

2019-04-11_16-03-06- MicrosoftToDo

In addition to the general work list I have “Delegated/ Parked with Others” for where I have a task which I’ve subsequently passed onto a colleague but want to check back in on progress- things I don’t want to totally disappear from my radar just because someone else is doing the work. I also have a list here for “Project Ideas”; these are those ideas which aren’t quite a task yet, a list of “wouldn’t it be great if we could do x?” or “should we be looking at implementing y?”.

As To-Do is a single-user viewpoint it’s important that it works well with the other work management tools I’m exposed to- project management, collaboration, and service-desk apps can’t just be ignored. My method here is to take those support calls and project actions and add them to my To-Do list, this way I can manage my own time. It’s important to remember that progress updates and documentation need to be recorded in the correct systems, but the use of To-Do as a simple tick list works well for me here.

As someone who has flipped between task management apps and their paper equivalents I’m impressed that I’ve been using To-Do for so long, so if you’re on the lookout for a personal task manager I’d recommend giving it a try. If this app interests you, Microsoft has more details here: https://products.office.com/en-gb/microsoft-to-do-list-app

To Do List

Other task managers are available

vSAN- Controller Driver is (not) VMware Certified

In the process of upgrading a vSAN ReadyNode cluster from ESXi 6.5 to 6.7 a warning appeared in the vSAN Health check. The first host in the cluster had gone through the upgrade and was now showing the warning “Controller driver is VMware certified” (Note 1 in the image below, click on it for a larger view). The Dell HBA330 card was using an older version of the driver (2 in the image below) than recommended (3).

image

All workloads were still online, but running VMware Update Manager (VUM) did not clear this warning. Looking in the VUM patch listing showed the driver for ESXi 6.5 (4) but not the version recommended for 6.7.

image

Solution

It was necessary to manually load these replacement drivers in. A quick google showed they could be sourced from VMware’s download site. Extract the ZIP file from the download and then use the “Upload from File” option in VUM (5) to upload the ZIP file which was inside (in this case “VMW-ESX-6.7.0-lsi_msgpt3-17.00.01.00-offline_bundle-9702440.zip“). The new driver should then appear in the list (6) and will automatically be added to the “Non-Critical Host Patches” baseline (7). Final remediation is now just a case of applying that updating baseline to the host.

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In this particular instance the hosts were Dell PowerEdge R630 vSAN ReadyNodes with the HBA330 SAS HBA Controller option but the principles outlined in this post should apply to other configurations with the same symptoms.