What’s (in) my bag for Nutanix .Next 2018 London

This post is fairly similar to my posts for .Next Nice in 2017 and VMworld US of this year. For security reasons I decided to go with the XD Design Bobby again. Since it’s a lot harder to open when on my back I feel it’s a bit more secure while travelling on the London Underground. A couple of other changes also have been made, the bubm bag was replaced by a bit smaller pouch from the same maker and my Sony headset has gone to my wife since I settled on the Jabra Move I got from Cohesity at VMworld. The Jabra just sits a bit more comfortable for me and fits perfectly in it’s own bubm case.

For the rest there are the usual suspects: Xiaomi 10k battery pack, HP Probook 440 G5Microsoft designer mouseRoundcube Rewirable  USB Travel adapter and some various bits & pieces. My suitcase is simply packed with lots of stroopwafels and all the Nutanix NTC gear I have.

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.

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.