VMworldbound Contest

After some consideration, here is how the winner of the #VMworldbound contest will be selected.

On Tuesday August 2nd, seven finalists will be picked by William Lam and myself; these people will be notified and expected to confirm no later than Wednesday morning at 9am EST that if they win the VMworld Pass, they will be able and planning to attend, for sure.
The idea and point of this giveaway is to make sure this pass is not wasted and provide someone in the community the opportunity to enjoy a great conference. 
If any of the finalists can't make it for whatever reason, another person not initially picked will enter the "Selected 7".

Announcements for finalists will be made on Twitter and/or via the medium the finalist used to submit her/his entry. The soonest a confirmation of attendance is received the better.

On Wednesday night I will be broadcasting on Periscope the actual drawing and selection of the winner. The names of finalists will be placed in a bag/hat/box (or whatever container I find) and a lucky one will be pulled. 

If you want to be notified and watch the live broadcast, even if you're not participating, you'll need to enable account notifications on Twitter.

Give this a try, you never know what the future may bring.

Good luck to all participants!

Free VMworld Pass Contest

Would you like to go to VMWorld and don't have a pass? 
If your answer is yes, read on... You may be the lucky winner of a free registration code for it.

I want to give someone the possibility of attending VMworld 2017 in Las Vegas next month, so I'm giving away a validated registration code for the big conference to a lucky person in the vCommunity and hopefully make a difference in that person's career.

Ideally, the gal or guy would be someone who has not attended VMworld before, although having attended in the past doesn't disqualify you from participating :) 

Would like to see a person who is enthusiastic about virtualization, eager to learn and to take full advantage of everything this event has to offer.

Having attended my first and only VMworld last year made me realize the immense value this conference presents if you take advantage of its opportunities; you get to see great stuff on the different breakout sessions, practice and learn the latest products and/or features from VMware in the Hands-on-Labs, meet amazing and smart people and have tons of fun in the process.

When the additional registration code became available to me this week, I thought of contributing it to somebody who may not have the chance of attending and giving that individual the opportunity to experience the awesomeness that I enjoyed last August.

So, for a chance to win, comment on this blog or use hashtag #VMworldbound on Twitter and list the reasons why you would like to attend VMworld 2017. Make sure you tag @lamw and myself @j_kolkes if using Twitter.

Community leader William Lam will be picking and announcing the winner on August 2nd.

The only requirements are:
  • You want and are able go to VMworld2017 in Las Vegas.
  • You can cover flight and hotel expenses. They're not included in this giveaway.
  • You promise to meet with William and myself for a drink and picture while at the event ;)

.NEXT, what I'm expecting.

Back in December 2016 the vBrownBag Community sponsored by technology companies, gave out prizes to its followers; some prizes included brand sunglasses, drones and other cool stuff; I don't remember the complete list but there were many. One of the most highly valued prizes was a pair of passes to the Nutanix .NEXT Conference in Washington DC. I was one of the lucky winners, so I'm getting ready to take advantage and attend the 3 day event this week for the first time. 

As a virtualization enthusiast, I enjoy learning different technologies, products and solutions; unfortunately, Nutanix isn't a solution I have used in the past, not because I don't want to, but because I haven't had a chance to really kick the tires and dive into it a bit deeper. I understand Nutanix's solutions based on presentations and documents read, but the way my brain absorbs the most is by doing or in this case by actually using and navigating the application; so I am anticipating to hit the Nutanix Labs hard this week, ask many questions during the different sessions and talk with NTC's and hopefully become a more knowledgeable HCI / Nutanix / Acropolis / Prism / Enterprise Cloud user myself. 
Of course this being a large conference where many of the community users attend, I also expect to see my old friends and make new ones! 

These types of conferences are a great opportunity to network, meet other professionals and of course learn a bunch; I'm looking forward for all these expectations to be fulfilled during the .NEXT Conference this June 28th through 30th. If you see me there, say hi 😉

Zerto, my Notes and Thoughts

Earlier this year, I was involved on a POC for Zerto Virtual Replication in a VMware environment and took some notes of things that I liked and found useful about the product and the way it works.

I wanted to share here some of the things I have learned, for my own reference and obviously for anyone out there who is starting with the product and may find these notes useful. A disclaimer here though: Things you read here could have been misinterpreted or misunderstood by me and you should research and use Zerto's Technical Documentation if you plan on implementing it in your production environment.

Overall, I really like Zerto; it is intuitive and simple to use, yet very powerful and complete application that will allow you to protect virtual machines with RPO in seconds and give you very convenient features.

Let's review some basic acronyms and components you need to be familiar with:
Zerto Virtual Manager or ZVM: It is the central management interface installed on a Windows server, it allows you to manage all the DR tasks related to your source and target sites. You need one ZVM per vCenter Server.
Virtual Replication Appliance or VRA: This is the appliance deployed to each one of the hosts in the cluster where the VMs you intend to protect reside, as well as in the target hosts. These appliances manage the actual replication of data from source to target site. VRA's run Debian Linux for operating system.
VPG: Virtual Protection Group; it is the grouping of servers that replicate with the same parameters or settings; often used to group servers of the same application stack, so they can be tested and recover together. Important as when you failover to a Checkpoint, they are all consistent.

From my personal point of view and own experience I will list some of the features and cool options in no specific order.

The installation process: It cannot be simpler. Installing Zerto is straightforward process; you will need one Windows Server to install the software and link it to its dedicated vCenter Server. The software requires a minimum of 4GB of free space. The installation wizard offers two options; one is the “Custom installation” which will give you the opportunity to select a specific account to run the Zerto Virtual Manager service, the ability to choose an external or embedded database. The “Express installation” will use embedded database and run its service as Local System. Regardless of the option, you will need to enter the FQDN of your vCenter, an account with permissions and a Site Name. From the installation wizard you can choose to participate in the Online Services and Zerto Mobile Application which will give you access to Zerto Analytics which is a great new tool that's expanding. At the end of the wizard communication and credentials to vCenter are validated; if there are any issues, a warning will display. Installation completes within 5 minutes.

Logging in for the first time: You access Zerto from a browser on port 9669 (https://DR-vCenter.kolkes.com:9669/zvm).
You need to provide a license key when you first login, so you either enter a the key manually or pair with another site that is already licensed and running.
Its HTML5 interface is clean and very responsive, you see multiple tabs where you configure different things but one thing I found useful in this product is that you can access and initiate many tasks from various places in the UI. 
On a brand new installation there will be pop-up messages that will guide you through finalizing the setup and things you need to do in order to start protecting your VMs.

Main Zerto management screen

The tabs in the UI are intuitive but here is a quick summary of them:

PowerCLI Poster Giveaway Contest

For the last few months I have really been interested in improving my PowerShell and PowerCLI skills. I've been watching Pluralsight courses and using every opportunity to perform tasks or obtain reports from the command line instead of using the GUI - when time allows :-) 
After seeing the PowerCLI poster available from VMware, I wanted to get my hands on one but after asking the gurus for a copy and finding out they didn't have additional ones, I resorted to printing my own from the PDF VMware provides here.  I ordered 3 posters and they came out very nice... In full (recommended) size 39x19 inches and laminated for durability; here's the one in my cube..

Having a pair extra I wanted to have a contest to give them away, so I initially thought of offering them to anyone who could teach me the best PowerCLI trick, something advanced and useful, but soon I realized that advanced users may not benefit from having the poster as much as someone starting to learn PowerCLI, so the idea changed quickly and an update was posted. Brian Graf and Kyle Ruddy accepted to be the judges at and select the winners few days later.

Many people did not follow the rules and were simply asking for the poster until Brian Graf tweeted this: 

Reporte de VMs con su promedio de CPU

Cuanto más aprendo PowerCLI, mas quiero aprenderlo y practicarlo. Cada que tengo una oportunidad de usarlo para automatizar o crear reportes en vez de otra herramienta que quizás me pueda brindar lo mismo utilizando el GUI, prefiero forzarme a hacerlo desde la línea de comando – es una buena excusa para practicar y mejorar en este lenguaje.

Recientemente mi jefe me pidió un reporte de las máquinas virtuales que son protegidas con Array Replication; él quería que listara el nombre, CPU, memoria, capacidad de disco asignada y el promedio de uso de CPU de cada VM. Las VMs residen en vCenters independientes pero tienen un común denominador y es que residen and datastores que utilizan un nombre propio, o al menos parte del nombre es igual “RPL”, para fácil distinción obviamente.

Dos de las propiedades que deberían estar en el reporte no me resultaba ponerlas en el reporte de una manera visualmente agradable; agregar ProvisionedSpaceGB resultaba en un numero de muchísimos dígitos y conseguir filtrar el promedio de uso de CPU en la última semana no fue inicialmente fácil.
Gracias a Google y los muchos blogers que sin egoísmo comparten scripts y soluciones, pude encontrar la manera correcta de generar el reporte con un One-liner básicamente.

Quiero dejarlo aquí para mi propia referencia, pero también con la esperanza que alguien más lo encuentre beneficioso.

Get-Datastore RPL* | Get-VM | Select Name,NumCpu,MemoryGB,@{n="Provisionedspace(GB)"; E={[math]::round($_.ProvisionedSpaceGB)}},@{N="CPU Usage (Average), Mhz" ; E={[Math]::Round((($_ | Get-Stat -Stat cpu.usagemhz.average -Start (Get-Date).AddDays(-7) -IntervalMins 5 | Measure-Object Value -Average).Average),2)}} | Export-Csv C:\FileName.csv -NoTypeInformation

Esta parte nos proveé la abilidad de redondear el total de GB envez de presentar un numero con mas de 10 digitos.

Esta parte agrega el premedio de uso de CPU para cada VM en la ultima semana.
@{N="CPU Usage (Average), Mhz" ; E={[Math]::Round((($_ | Get-Stat -Stat cpu.usagemhz.average -Start (Get-Date).AddDays(-7) -IntervalMins 5 | Measure-Object Value -Average).Average),2)}}

Query average CPU of replicated VMs

As I continue to learn PowerCLI and PowerShell in general, I appreciate when there is a request for any kind of report with some values that may not come in 'canned' presentation. Few weeks ago, I was asked to schedule a report of all of the replicated VMs with their provisioned space and average CPU usage among other values. Without even looking to see if the Web Client GUI or other tools could provide this information; I wanted to use a PS One-liner, not only for my own practice but because it can be easily scheduled to run weekly or monthly.

For the basic query and filtering, I have watched enough PowerCLI videos on Pluralsight (😉) to know how to filter out certain VMs and get many of their properties. In this case, all replicated VMs reside on datastores with a common part of the name, so that was simple; but rounding the ProvisionedSpace in GB to fit nicely in Excel and listing the Average CPU usage for the last week was not, at least for me. Thankfully, we have Google and many unselfish bloggers who have shared how this type of properties can be displayed properly.

Below is the command I'm using and as always just wanted to post it here as reference for the future and in hope that someone else may find it useful.

The command will list VMs residing on datastores with "RPL" in their name; display the VM's Name, allocated CPU and RAM, ProvisionedSpaceGB rounded and Average CPU usage for the last week; this will be exported as a .CSV file.

Get-Datastore RPL* | Get-VM | Select Name,NumCpu,MemoryGB,@{n="Provisionedspace(GB)"; E={[math]::round($_.ProvisionedSpaceGB)}},@{N="CPU Usage (Average), Mhz" ; E={[Math]::Round((($_ | Get-Stat -Stat cpu.usagemhz.average -Start (Get-Date).AddDays(-7) -IntervalMins 5 | Measure-Object Value -Average).Average),2)}} | Export-Csv C:\FileName.csv -NoTypeInformation

This property rounds the Provisioned Space in GB, otherwise it will display a very long number.

This part averages the CPU for the last week.
@{N="CPU Usage (Average), Mhz" ; E={[Math]::Round((($_ | Get-Stat -Stat cpu.usagemhz.average -Start (Get-Date).AddDays(-7) -IntervalMins 5 | Measure-Object Value -Average).Average),2)}}