Author Archives: Chris

Get the Windows Install Date of a remote computer with PowerShell

A quick script that came up in response to a situation where I wanted to know the date a workstation on the network was last built without visiting the machine or interrupting the currently logged on user. PowerShell to the rescue!

The WMI property “InstallDate” comes into play here.

(Get-WmiObject Win32_OperatingSystem).InstallDate

Returns a date: “20180717202039.000000+060” for my workstation. The Get-WmiObject cmdlet can again be leveraged to make this into a more usable PowerShell DateTime object:

(Get-WmiObject Win32_OperatingSystem).ConvertToDateTime( (Get-WmiObject Win32_OperatingSystem).InstallDate )

Which returns 17 July 2018 20:20:39.

Get-WmiObject can also be used on a remote computer, this example would return the date that the computer called WS12000 was built.

(Get-WmiObject win32_OperatingSystem –ComputerName “WS12000”).InstallDate

I’ve taken this work and expanded it into a PowerShell function (available on GitHub). This function “Get-BuildDate” takes one or more computer names and returns a table of build dates and, because it’s handy, the number of days that have passed since that date.

Some example usage would be:

Return the installation date of workstation 40200:

Get-BuildDate  -ComputerNames "WS40200"

Computer BuildDate           DaysSinceLastBuild
-------- ---------           ------------------
WS40200  17/07/2018 20:20:39                 55

Return the installation date of workstations WS40200 and WS46000:

Get-BuildDate ("WS40200","WS46000")

or alternatively using pipeline input:

("WS40200","WS46000") | Get-BuildDate

Finally, return a table of the last build dates for the sequentially numbered computers called WS12300, WS12301, WS12302…. right through to WS12399:

$Computers=((12300..12399) | ForEach-Object{ "WS$_"}) | Get-BuildDate

The script (and any future refinements) is available here: https://github.com/isjwuk/powershell-general/blob/master/Get-BuildDate.ps1

VMworld 2018 Banner

VMworld Europe Session Builder

DfnJhy1W0AAI2LLWith VMworld US 2018 out of the way, focus turns to the European conference now only a couple of months away. For attendees of the Barcelona event, 25th September is a date to put in your diary as the “Schedule Builder” will be released.

The Schedule Builder is used to book yourself seats in the hundreds of sessions which will be held during the week. Although pre-booking is not strictly necessary it does mean that you are guaranteed a space and don’t have to wait in a queue in the hope that enough seats are free when the session starts.

Here are my top tips:

  • Visit the Content Catalog now to see what sessions have already been listed. Favourite any sessions that catch your interest. There are no dates/times/rooms set yet, so don’t worry about timetables and scheduling.
  • Mark the 25th September 2018 in your calendar to visit the Schedule Builder and book your seat.
  • Keep checking back as the event date draws closer. More sessions will be added as the event draws closer (for example the Hackathon, vBrownBag, and {code} sessions are not currently listed)- and possibly even after the doors open if new products are announced at the show.
  • If a session you’re interested in is fully booked, don’t panic- just turn up before the session starts and join the wait queue. The occasions I’ve done this I’ve had no problem getting in. Also keep your eyes open for repeat sessions being added for the more popular breakouts.
  • If you do end up with an unresolvable clash, remember that the breakouts are all recorded and posted online- I’d suggest picking the topic you’ll benefit most from seeing live, or the one you’re most likely to follow up on whilst at the conference.

Hopefully this is helpful, and I look forward to seeing you all in Barcelona soon.

VMworld 2018 US: HCI1469BU- The Future of vSAN and Hyperconverged Infrastructure

This “HCI Futures” session at VMworld US was hosted by two VPs from the Storage and Availability Business Unit, plus a customer guest. It covered the new features recently added to the vSAN environment with the release of 6.7 Update 1, alongside discussion of the possible future direction of VMware in the Hyper-Converged Infrastructure space. I caught up with the session via the online recording.

HCI is a rapidly growing architecture, with both industry wide figures from IDC and VMware’s own figures seeing massive spending increases. In the week of this VMworld, the 4-year old vSAN product is now boasting 15,000 customers. We are told customers are embarking on journeys into the Hybrid Cloud and looking for operational consistency between their On-Premises and Public Cloud environments.

The customer story incorporated into this breakout session was provided by Honeywell. They were an early adopter of vSAN in 2014, starting with the low-risk option of  hosting their management cluster on the technology. Since then they have replaced much of their traditional SAN infrastructure and are now boasting 1.7 Petabytes of data on vSAN, with compression and de-duplication giving them savings of nearly 700TB of disk.

VMware is pushing along several paths to enhance the product- the most obvious is including new storage technologies as they become available. All-flash vSAN is now commonplace, with SSDs replacing traditional spinning disk in the capacity tiers. Looking to the future, the session talked of the usage of NVMe and Persistent Memory (PMEM) developments – storage latency becoming significantly less than network latency for the first time. This prompts a move away from the current 2-tier model to one which incorporates “Adaptive Tiering” to make best use of the different storage components available.

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In the Public Cloud- in particular the VMware on AWS offering- there have been customers who want to expand storage faster than compute. In the current model this hasn’t been possible due to the fixed-capacity building blocks that HCI is known for. This is being addressed by adding access to Amazon’s Elastic Block Storage (EBS) in 6.7U1 as a storage target for the environment. vSAN Encryption using the Amazon KMS is also included, along with the ability to utilise the Elastic DRS features when using AWS as a DRaaS provider for a vSphere environment.

vSAN is also moving away from it’s position as “just” the storage for Virtual Machines. Future developments include the introduction of file storage- and the ability to do some advanced data management- classifying, searching, and filtering the data.

With all this data being stored, VMware is looking to enhance the data protection functionality in the platform. Incorporation of native snapshots with replication to secondary storage (and cloud) for DR purposes increase the challenge to “traditional” storage vendors- and although it was played down in this talk also encroach further into the backup space which is populated by a large group of VMware partners.

Cloud Native applications are also being catered for with Kubernetes integration- using application-level hooks to leverage snapshots, replication, encryption, and backups all through the existing vCenter interface.

If you want to watch the recording of this session to get more information it’s available on the VMworld site: https://videos.vmworld.com/searchsite/2018?search=HCI1469BU. To sign up to the vSAN Beta which is covering some of the Data Protection, Cloud Native Storage, and File Services visit http://www.vmware.com/go/vsan-beta

VMworld 2018 US: VIN2992BU- vSphere Client Roadmap

This session at VMworld US 2018 covered the past, present, and some of the future of the VMware vSphere Client. I caught up with the session via the online recording.

vSphere has moved from having a Windows-only desktop client (known as the “C#” or “fat” client), through a flash-based client to the new modern HTML5 client. The fat client is no longer supported by the current vSphere platforms and the Flash client will be deprecated with the “next numbered release” of vSphere- i.e. that version will be the last one to ship with the Flash client and from then on the HTML5 client will be the interface.

vSphere Client Evolution 2016-2018- Slide from VMworld 2018 US: VIN2992BU

vSphere Client Evolution 2016-2018

The HTML5 client has been around since appearing as a “fling” back in March 2016, becoming part of the supported release in November of that year with vSphere 6.5, and has picked up additional features with each subsequent release. With the new vSphere 6.7 Update 1 release this is now fully functional.

New features in 6.5U1 to round off this functionality include the integration of VMware Update Manager (VUM) and Platform Services Controller (PSC) management. There’s improvements around the creation workflow for alarm definitions, and for the implementation of vCenter High Availability (VCHA).

Also new is improvements to the search, including filtering. The presenters discussed  how the traditional tree-view used in the client could make it difficult to locate one of 35,000 VMs and a more targeted search was a better approach. There wasn’t a huge amount of talk prospective future developments in the clients in this talk but one of the items mentioned was the interest in integrating natural language searching in a future release.

The HTML5 client fling is still available, and can be used by vCenters running versions 6.0 or 6.5, but not 6.7. At the date the slides were made there had been 70,000 deployments of this fling and it had featured 70 update releases in the 2 years it has been available.

There was some information given about the feedback options in use- notably the use of the CEIP program to collect usage analytics from admins who have signed up to the scheme. This anonymised data is being used by VMware to drive future developments and prioritise features.

Around 30 minutes into the presentation the sound drifts off for about 5 minutes as there is a discussion with members of the audience. As a tip- always try and give the audience microphones or at least repeat their question for the recordings.

If you’re watching the recording then stick around as the final section covered the modern plugin framework which allows 3rd party developers (your backup, storage vendors etc.) to produce JavaScript-based plugins for the HTML5 client. VMware is offering a certification for these plugins to ensure compliance and the new plugin architecture allows vendors to deploy new versions outside of vSphere’s own release lifecycle.

If you want to watch the recording of this session to get more information it’s available on the VMworld site: https://videos.vmworld.com/searchsite/2018?search=VIN2992BU

The NSX Portfolio

There’s an ever growing variety of NSX flavours as VMware expands the range of their Network Virtualisation and security platforms. A recent podcast highlighted these to me, and I thought it worth summarising here in a quick post.

NSX DataCenter– This is the product that people have usually previously referred to as NSX (the NSX moniker now applying to the whole suite of products). This has two varieties: NSX-V which is the traditional Network Virtualisation for vSphere and NSX-T which is the Network Virtualisation product for multi-hypervisor and multi-cloud platforms. The current NSX-T version 2.2 itself has two options- the datacentre release for multi-hypervisor support (Ubuntu and Red Hat KVM platforms) or an offering with additional cloud support NSX-Cloud (currently for the Microsoft Azure platform).

NSX SD-Wan By VeloCloud is from the recent Velocloud aquisition by VMware providing, as the name suggests, software-defined Wide-Area-Network capabilities.

NSX Hybrid Connect was formerly known as HCX (Hybrid Cloud Extension) and was announced at VMWorld Europe 2017. This is the VMware platform for consolidating datacentres and moving workloads around- aiming for an “any platform to any platform” style of seamless vMotion.

For more info, check out the VMware Community Podcast episode #438 with Tim Davis (from about 9 minutes).