Nutanix Technology Champion, what’s in it for you?

This week it was announced that applications for the 2019 Nutanix Technology Champions (NTC) are open. Despite not having worked with Nutanix in production in a while I have been a member of this great piece of vCommunity for two years now. Angelo, who runs the program, listed the benefits to include the following:

  • Early access briefings about Nutanix products and announcements
  • Access to private betas and insight into ongoing product development
  • Participation in exclusive meetings with engineering teams
  • Access to discussions on the Nutanix NTC slack channel with internal teams
  • Exclusive activities at our annual .NEXT conference including pre-show briefings
  • Support and Mentorship for those seeking NCP, NCAP and NPX career development

Let’s dive into these benefits a bit deeper.

Early access briefings about Nutanix products and announcements

Since I don’t work with the tech this is what really keeps me up to speed on what Nutanix is doing. While sometimes it’s hard for them to do it really early with the fast pace of developing new features or tools this still gives the edge for bloggers who like to blog about this. But it also gives us the possibility to provide feedback before it’s released for new ideas or enhancements.

Access to private betas and insight into ongoing product development

Again due to the high pace of developing at Nutanix the first part doesn’t happen too often but the second one does every now and then. Engineers pitch ideas during regular calls and use our reactions to those to see if it would be worth implementing.

Participation in exclusive meetings with engineering teams

See the previous point, it’s really valuable for both sides to give and receive the input on new developments.

Access to discussions on the Nutanix NTC slack channel with internal teams

Being a customer or partner this is the icing on the cake for you. Besides communicating with your fellow NTC’s every Nutanix employee can have access to our Slack Channel. I have been on the phone with support during an issue while on Slack I was able to give logs and other information that otherwise might have taken a bit more time to end up on their side. In here there are no stupid questions and if the person with the required knowledge isn’t in the channel someone else will invite them in. And it isn’t about Nutanix software only, if someone at Nutanix has the knowledge we will get them in there. Want to ask CEO Dheeraj Pandey a question? He’s in there as well!

Exclusive activities at our annual .NEXT conference including pre-show briefings

We always have a NTC lunch at .Next and several briefings up front so we know what to expect. Angelo is also a selfie maniac at conferences so you probably won’t get away without one posted on Twitter. Everywhere you go you’ll find another NTC around so like most conferences it’s a great place to make new and meet old friends.

(and no I never look good on selfies :D)

Support and Mentorship for those seeking NCP, NCAP and NPX career development

For this again the Slack channel is essential. After a call about the NPX certification ealy this year I pitched the idea to have a bootcamp in The Netherlands and that turned out to be a success as you can see in my blogpost about it.

Other things

Are there any other advantages than those that Angelo names? Yes there certainly are, all NTC’s get a free subscription to Pluralsight and on a regular base we have calls with vendors that also supply us with nfr licenses. For example we have access to hycu, Bitdefender and after the comming call also  Unitrends.

Conclusion

It doesn’t matter if you are a partner, customer or member of the greater vCommunity being a member of the NTC program is great benefit. Angelo really strives to help us grow in whatever we do and succeeds in that! If it isn’t about the knowledge then it is about expanding your network in this awesome thing that we call the vCommunity.

My experience at the Nutanix NPX bootcamp

The preparation

After a Nutanix Technology Champions websession we had earlier this year I thought it was a good idea if there would be one in The Netherlands. The only requirement was to supply at least 12 people and also to leave some spots for Nutants. While I reached out to the current NTC’s Bert van der Lingen reached out to the NPP’s he trained in the Netherlands. It didn’t take long before we had enough people interested to start the process. The location was also arranged quickly at the Dutch Nutanix offices while the date was set for september 24-28th.

The coaches

Since we had 25 people signed up for the bootcamp there where three coaches assigned for this week: Tim Buckholz (NPX #12), Bruno Sousa (NPX #15) and Crescenzo Oliviero (NPX #16). Including in their coaching role they also where the Nubank customer for whom we had to create a new design. While being the customer we had to ask the right questions but if we weren’t sure about something they also showed great patience with us in explaining things.

The Bootcamp

In the time leading up to the bootcamp itself I was still apprehensive about my own (lack of) experience but lots of people told me that it shouldn’t be a problem. I went in with an open mind that it would be a great learning opportunity. Looking back at the week this was the best way to look at the process. No matter what you designed the NuBank customer always managed to find flaws and gave good feedback on what was lacking but also on what was good.

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One constant factor was change! The first day was a shock to most: Sizing can be rather difficult you know. On each day new tasks were added like networking, storage but also Business Critical apps and VDI you could expect curveballs to be thrown at any time! For this my open mind probably was a bonus because it was clear some people had issues with this. If you didn’t care about failing but still did the best you could in building the designs you would learn the most in my opinion. During the week we also learned to ask more and more questions to the customer, something we hardly did during the first day.

During the afternoon on day four it was time to build that last design so we could do a proper defence of it for the Nubank customer. For the presentation each team had 45 minutes and time management was difficult. It’s really easy to go down a rabbit hole in explaining nerd knobs while there is no time for that.

Even during the last presentation it was clear that the newly tech created during the week was needed in some cases. Our team required wireless ipmi while others had wireless load balancers, wireless 40GB lines and other wireless stuff.

My own verdict

For myself I consider this one of the best weeks of learning I have ever done. There’s hardly anywhere to work with a such a group of dedicated and motivated people. And it proved even more how good and important the vCommunity is in sharing knowledge and caring for others.

I would like to thank the three awesome coaches and also my teammates Wouter Iliohan, Nick Maeckelberghe and Arjan Hendriks for being such good sports this week.

Nutanix .Next 2017 Nice: My Sessions

Intro

Last week as you’ll probably already have seen I was at the Nutanix .Next 2017 Europe event in Nice, France. During this amazing event, I visited several sessions going from sales talks, via an NDA session to a deep dive. In this post, I will try to give a bit more information about the sessions I followed as far as I can do.

Disclaimer: this overview is based on notes written during the session and my memory and since specially the latter is not failsafe they could be some untrue things in this post. Please send the feedback directly to me so I can adjust them. Also, I don’t have equal amounts of text about all sessions because nothing is equal.

Nice disclaimer, right? This was just if the disclaimer all presenters had to read before starting their sessions. On screen, there was an even bigger one equally to the one showed during the keynote’s.

Index

These where the sessions that I followed:

Dell-EMC: 6 rules of disruption

VMware VDI On Nutanix

NX Files (NDA)

SOS Troubleshooting Nutanix

Puppet

Calm Deep dive

The six rules of disruption

While this clearly is a sponsored session only the middle part was commercial. Before and after that it was about those six rules and what they are according to them. I will give a bit more explanation about them that also might include my own opinion about them.

  • The interface is everywhere
    • It is, just think of your smartphone, Google home, an Echo dot or maybe your home thermostat. Everything has an interface these days. While voice commands where hard years back it has become really mature these days on some of those devices.
  • Remove the friction
    • If something doesn’t work flawlessly users will not accept it and the product will fail. Same with doing business, if it gets hard for a customer to do business with you they will go away and take their business somewhere else.
  • Prepare for abundance
    • With this they say that we should prepare for more and more data. Everything will have a sensor in the future, from the floor you walk on, trough the shoes you walk with up to the hat you have on your head. This will need to be handled somewhere.
  • Embrace non-linearity
    • With this they try to say we shouldn’t keep thinking the same way. Change needs and will happen and if you refuse to change you will lose.
  • Be honest
    • If you are not honest this will haunt you. In a world where a single tweet can bring down companies being dishonest might result in that tweet.
  • Be curious
    • If you don’t keep pioneering and developing yourself there is no way forward. If companies keep doing the same repeatedly they will fail in the end. Same with people, if I never learned anything new or would never think outside of the box I would have been unemployed for years already.

This was a fun session to follow and while the 6 points ‘coincidentally’ are generally the direction Nutanix is going they are also what lots of people see happening in the (near) future.

VMware VDI on Nutanix

This session was meant to be presented by Brian Suhr but he managed to brake his leg the week before so he was replaced by Kees Baggerman of Nutanix and VCDX-DTM Sean Massey. I had to sit in front because I big mouthed Angelo Luciano to sit up front and Sean made me take his place. Me always with my big mouth. While a lot of the content in this session was already known to me it was good to see some of my knowledge once more confirmed and they presented us with some figures I would never have guessed. I always knew that optimizing an image is required but up to 50% performance was new to me. Also, they gave numbers to prove that data locality is essential for VDI. I can’t remember the exact numbers but there was a big difference with or without shadow clones enabled. This was a very good session that showed the audience on how to design a good working VMware View environment on Nutanix.

NX Files

Since this was an NDA session there’s not a lot I can say besides that it contained presentations about ideas and product improvements that came out of the Nutanix Internal Hackathons. Only point I have about this session that it contained code samples that where hard to read since the text was too small.

SOS Troubleshooting

To start this session had some hard to read blue titles in the PowerPoint and too small text size ssh session screens. Content wise this session was about the tools you can use to manage and troubleshoot your Nutanix Environment like the alerting services, NCC, syslog, Pulse and Prism analysis. Further it went deeper into the thought process and framework required for successful troubleshooting.

Some of the key takeaways from this session where that an admin should always run NCC before logging a case. Also, Pulse should be enabled where possible and allowed. This sends only relevant information to Nutanix that contains no IP or data. This was a great session with heaps of technical information.

Puppet

The presenter for this session introduced himself as an engineer but the first five minutes sounded commercial. Luckily, I had an excuse to escape since Sean Massey asked me to record a podcast about automating Horizon View with PowerCLI

Calm deep dive

Again, this was a good session to follow. Some of it might have been lost on me but Calm looks to be an awesome and easy tool to use. The real nerds will be able to dig deep into it though and can connect it to any automation tool already in use and can even create the json config files automatically using other tooling. Calm itself consists of two docker systems running on Prism Central, by default it will be disabled but once enabled (and maybe the ram for the Prism Central server(s) is expanded it will give access to just about anything you want to automate ranging from PowerShell to SSH, batch or the programming language you might prefer.

Nutanix .Next Europe report Day 2

Disclaimer: this post was written between 6 am and 7 am without having access to coffee.

So, that was the second and last day of .Next Europe 2017. The rush from day one continued with a great keynote where Nutanix launched their vision on how to handle IoT. The keynote itself started with the outtakes of yesterday’s clapping video which was funny and had a lot of beeps because of all the profanity.

Back to the IoT, within no-time there will be three billion devices but probably more that need to send their data somewhere. This will be way too much to send to the cloud. Nutanix will process this data in the edge and only send the valuable stuff to the cloud. For this even container are too big and even smaller entities will be handling that data. Sherlock is what Nutanix named this functionality and it will handle IoT devices as first-class objects and we will literally go from webscale to planet scale computing.

After this the CEO of Hyperloop came on stage to talk about the progress they have been making. Personally, I really see a future for this tech but I doubt if it can be done as cheap and as safe as what he is saying. The keynote needed with a tale about machine learning with a comparison of Big Blue beating the best chess player in the world years back by brute force to the best Go player in the world being beaten by using machine learning.

The second day of .Next I only did two break-out sessions. The first one was about troubleshooting and the tools and thought paths needed for that. The second one was a deep dive on Calm where we were shown all the bells and whistles wat can be really done with Nutanix’ new automation tool. I ended up in a 3rd session but it started with five minutes of sales crap so I was happy to escape so I could record a podcast with Sean Massey about Horizon View & PowerCLI.

The closing keynote was just awesome. There was some other thing being told but it was all about one of the good causes that Nutanix has been sponsoring during the .Next conference: Not Impossible. This is all about helping people and all started with CEO Mike Ebeling telling the family of a graffiti artist that he would make him able to draw again. Having no idea on how to tackle this he gathered a bunch of mad scientists and ended up doing it with cheap hardware and open source software; The Eyewriter. Their second project was project Daniel where he decided to create a cheap way to make artificial limps for a victim of the fighting in Sudan that had both his arms amputated. He developed techniques so the people in the refugee camps would be able to help each other with cheap 3d printers so artificial limbs went from 1000’s of dollars to 100’s of dollars.

With both these stories it was clear that Mike struck a nerve with the audience because at the end of his talk he received a well-deserved standing ovation. After this Nutanix announced the gathered a combined $11.000 for all four good causes: Not Impossible, Girls in Tech, Movember and the Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Centre

Nutanix .Next Europe report Day 1

To repeat an earlier phrase: ooooh what a rush. Yesterday was a great day in a perfectly named Acropolis where Nutanix is holding its second .Next Europe. Being one of the 2200 attendants in an atmosphere that really feels vibrant is awesome. Due to security and busses leaving late from hotels the Keynote (with my mugshot in there since I am a Nutanix Technology Champion) began 15 minutes late but made up that lost time by ending 45 minutes late. The only other point about the keynote was that it went a lightning speed. As techs, we managed to follow everything but I am 100% sure that a lot of people didn’t manage that.

In here we saw some new features of the 5.5 release, new tools and performance charts that are just unbelievable. The fact that they did demos on stage made it even better. The key thing from the keynote for me is that everything will be about simplicity. If apps/tools can’t be consumed very easily they will never be as successful as apps that are and the mantra of More Tea Less Clicks will probably appeal to everyone although some people might name it More Life Less Clicks or More Beers Less clicks.

Due to the keynote running late I missed my first session about xtract since I really wanted to visit with my fellow NTC’s at our lunch. It was good to finally meet the people behind the names with Sudheesh Nair making a surprise visit. He was almost literally pulled from the hallway by Angelo Luciano when he walked by.

My first session was from Dell about the six rules of disruption. This session told an obvious story with a little bit of product marketing in between. Nothing too much but hey a vendor has to sell so things, right? The second session I did was a Horizon View on Nutanix session. This was supposed to be done by Brian Suhr but he broke his leg last week so Sean Massey (VCDX-DTM) and Kees Baggeman had to replace him. They had some good takeaways and performance tips and tricks for the audience. Both sessions will be covered more extensively in a later post. I will not be able to do that with my last sessions since this was an NDA session with new tools and features that might or might not end up in final products presented by the engineers who created them at one of the Nutanix Hackathons.

The evening keynote started with a small fireside chat about politics and economics and how they influence each other. After this Fabian Cousteau came on stage for a very inspiring talk about the sea and how it impacts everything on our world. He had a very good tale and awesome videos to show. I visited the reception at the convention floor for a short while but did not go to the party. I was getting tired and since I am not really a party person I probably would have left early anyway. I saw some pictures that they had a big tent at the beach and that was food since there was a good thunderstorm when I left the venue.

What’s in my bag for Nutanix .Next

Intro

So previous to VMworld and also for MS Ignite I saw some people posting pictures of what would be in their bag for those events. Since I have always been a bad copycat I decided to make a post like that myself for Nutanix .Next Europe that I will be attending. Since it’s still some weeks to go the list might change a bit but this is the core of what i will be bringing.

Laptop

My day to day laptop is an HP Probook 440 G4 it by defaults comes with an 128GB NVME and has an extra 500Gb SSD added to it with 16Gb of ram. This is plenty for me and when I want I am always able to run a couple of VM’s. It has an USB-C port but sadly HP made sure it can’t be charged over that 🙁 It does have a regular USB port that gives some more power to charge my phone. When doing simple office work it has a battery life of about 6-7 hours so for most convention days I only need to charge it overnight. With 14 inch it has a nice size and the weight is also low enough.

Phone

this smart talky talky thing is a Samsung A5 2017 and yes the screencover needs to be replaced. Again it goes a very long time on the battery, only when i get distracted by Boom Beach it goes down a lot faster. From my employer I have a Samsung S4 mini, this makes phone calls, does whatsapp and the mail and that’s about it.

Headset

To keep the rotten sounds out and the good sounds in my ear I use the Sony MDR-ZX770BN. Since in ear buds always give my headaches I went with this over ear set that i got recommended by a lot of folks in the community and I love it. it gives a lot of bang for the noise cancelling buck.

Loose stuf

For the rest I have a supposedly (but who believes China?) Bubm DIS-L case fits all those goodies that normally would get lost in my backpack. It will be holding a battery pack (Xiaomi 10k for when i have played to much Boom Beach), Xiaomi Bluetooth mouse (Cheap, works perfect), USB stick, charging cables and whatever else I can think off. Xiaomi does have some good and cheap things to use it just takes a while before they arrive from China.

Travel Adapter

Wait, a travel adapter? You’re form The Netherlands just use your normal plugs! Yes I will be using those but this is an ideal travel adapter. The Powercube Rewireable USB isn’t a normal adapter. This cube uses a normal C14 cable or one of the plugs that come with it for other countries. So for France a normal power cable is all it takes to give me four power outlets + two 2A USB ports. Ideal for when you are travelling.

Nutanix Releases Xtract for VM’s

Today Nutanix has released the Xtract for VM’s product. With this tool you will finally be able to directly move your existing vSphere infrastructure to the Nutanix Cloud platform on AHV without any 3rd party tooling or workarounds.

Previously there where several ways to move from ESXi to AHV. The first way was to use 3rd party tooling like starwind to convert the disks. The other ways where completely manual by adding existing disks to new VM’s, use the cross hypervisor DR functionality or in place ESXi > AHV conversion if both clusters where already running on Nutanix. While these are tested and well documented scenario’s, there was no easy way to just test this and it could require a large maintenance window with a lot of manual actions. Rolling back could be a pita as well so it might end up being a costly effort.

In the spring Nutanix already announced Xtract, a tool that would solve all these headaches for you. With it you can schedule the migration and it will insert the required drivers and network settings for you. This results in a migration with hardly any downtime. You can setup the sync from ESXi to AHV wel advance so it is possible to test the complete migration procedure well in advance of the final cutover.

TLDR:

Release of new Nutanix tool called Xtract for Vm’s that efficiently and safely automates the move of your vm’s from ESXi to AHV.

 

Is updating @VMware ESXi at @Nutanix really that easy?

Do you want the short answer or the long answer?

Short: Yes!

Long: Absolutely!

The real story:

  • After doing several Acropolis (CVM) & NCC (Health check) upgrades before on my customer’s Nutanix clusters today was the first time to do an actual hypervisor upgrade. Since we run everything on VMware we wanted to go from 5.5u2 to 6.0u2. The first things to do is to check all compatibility charts and with Acropolis at 4.6.4 and NCC at 2.2.8 we had green lights all over the board.
  • What I always do first before doing anything is running a health check. Since NCC 2.2 you can run some of the checks parallel to save some time:

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  • After the check and make sure DRS is set on automated and vSphere HA is turned on as it should otherwise you won’t be updating anything!
  • Next up is heading to Prism, no we’re not doing any cli work when a GUI is better and just as fast!
  • The first thing to do is upload the software (Offline bundle zip file from VMware.com and json file from Nutanix.com)

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  • Go to Software Upgrade

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  • Select Upload the hypervisor Binary

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  • Select the binary and the Json files and hit Upload Now

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  • When this is done hit the arrow besides the upgrade button and select the pre-check (the real upgrade also does this but it is never wrong to check twice!)

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  • Enter the IP of the vCenter (not DNS!) and credentials

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  • This won’t take long but if you get bored hit the Nothing do to button for a game of 2048 presented to you by our friends at Nutanix

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  • You might need to re-open the Software Upgrade but but somewhere it will be done now

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  • When this finishes successful it’s time to hit the real upgrade button

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  • You know what to do here right?

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  • The waiting game has started since there will be a lot of vMotion’s and reboots
  • This it might be time for this again

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  • If you re-open the Software Upgrade bit it will show the versions of ESXi the cluster is now running

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  • Aaaaaaand we’re done

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So actually creating this post took longer then the preparation and actions for the upgrade themselves. For me that was 5 minutes work in preparation and about 20 minutes per host for the upgrade itself.