vExpert 2019? check! Why does it matter for me?

Last week whilst on holiday in Disneyland Paris I received the email every aspiring and existing vExpert was waiting for.

This means that for the fourth consecutive year I have been named a vExpert.

What is a vExpert? (or any other community award like NutanixNTC)

Per the vExpert site the criteria for becoming a vExpert are:

If you are interested in becoming a vExpert the criteria is simple. We are looking for IT Professionals who are sharing their VMware knowledge and contributing that back to the community. The term “giving back” is defined as going above and beyond your day job. There are several ways to share your knowledge and engage with the community. Some of those activities are blogging, book authoring, magazine articles, CloudCred task writing, active in facebook groups, forum (VMTN as well as other non VMware) platforms, public speaking, VMUG leadership, videos and so on.

I totally agree on the above description, for me a real vExpert shares knowledge in one of many ways. But blogging, speaking, tweeting, podcasting, writing isn’t the only way. We answer questions online and offline and if we don’t know the answer than we have an awesome backstop to ask questions called the vCommunity. Is it technical only you might ask? Absolutely not! I have seen hundreds of job changes by now because of the vCommunity. People were helped with personal issues, hell even home deco tips and tricks are shared. I think it’s just in our nature to help one another.

Yes it’s also about advocacy but the sharing of information is all voluntary. Do you want to tweet or blog about stuff? No-one will force you but they do appreciate it if you share news.

One things advocacy program members are also good at is providing feedback. Not only to the software vendor but if you want some feedback about a possible blog post, presentation idea, news item or piece of hardware most of us will give you that feedback. Just be prepared because we can be brutally honest if it sucks!

But there are over 1700 vExperts, is it about quantity or Quality?

This is a point where I personally disagree on how the program is run. I have the idea that they want to grow just to grow and for me the selection criteria could be tightened quite a bit. I value growing but please do it by adding quality. If you look at smaller programs like some of the vExpert subprograms or others like the VMware EUC Champions or Nutanix NTC’s they are most times better managed, get more briefings, nda information and events. Not that the vExpert program is managed badly or doesn’t have an awesome party at VMworld but things just get more complicated at this scale.

But does the program still matter to you?

It certainly does! Through the vExpert program I have managed to grow personally and professionally but also made boatloads of friends online and offline. All the extra’s like licenses, swag and things like that are fun but nothing is as good as knowing you have some great people who are always happy to help you in any way possible!

I want in too, how do I become a vExpert?

Currently the sign ups are closed but until they open again (probably somewhere in June) you can start doing some things already:

  • Start a blog, most people do it as their own knowledge base. Write about what you experienced at work or a customer so you won’t forget it for next time.
  • Get a twitter account, follow a bunch of people and interact with them.
  • Help others out in places like VMTN, Reddit.
  • Present at a vmug or at your employer about things that could be interesting to others. This could be as basic as explaining how your homelab is setup.

If you need help or feedback on your blog or need help on how to build your presentation I am always happy to provide my 2 cents.

When the sign ups are opened again contact your local vExpert pro with how to tackle the application form. You can also ask me or any other vExpert you might know personally.

The Horizon Helpdesk Utility fling version 1.3.3.1 has been released

Last august I posted about a then new fling: the Horizon Helpdesk Utility While that release was great Andrew added a whole lot more of awesomeness.

Changelog

Version 1.3.3.1

  • Removed machine listings from session view (overkill)
  • Improved Environment view to include metrics on all connected infrastructure:
    • vSphere
    • Hosts
    • Datastores
    • Remote Pods
    • Events
    • Problem Machines
  • Added repeated queries for logon breakdown if missed on first instance
  • Added event query support for logon breakdown
  • Added events view for Farm and Desktop pools
  • Added inbuilt find / search to users / machines in pool views
  • Added support for multiselect in pool / farm views
  • Added graph / chart views of machines / sessions and problem machines on the environment overview
  • Added a pod switcher to the environment overview
  • Added a global search to the environment overview
  • Added support for Pod Jumping.
    • the ability to jump to a pod on demand
    • the ability to jump to a pod a session belongs to
  • Added support for an architecture view of Desktop Pools
  • Added support for an architecture view of Farms
    • Enhanced view of servers load evaluator value
  • Added bulk user tasks via pool or farm views:
    • Bulk messaging
    • Bulk log off
    • Bulk disconnect
    • Bulk reset
    • Bulk restart
  • Added support for a local pod view (AKA environment view):
    • Connection servers
    • Farms
    • Desktop pools
  • Added documentation (finally)
  • Added MSI installation support
  • Added a start time column to user sessions (this will persist as a preference)

Let’s take a look some of the new goodies, the first change is that you now get a proper connection alert:

The POD switcher

The show environment button will show you the environment as seen from the pod you are currently connected to. A lot of tabs with health information about those components and some counts on sessions, machines and problem machines.

The address behind Connected To will send you to the Horizon Admin Console, this might sound small but I like it!

When you open a pool this is what you see

All of the events for that pool and yes you can sort & filter them!

Some details for a users session

If there are multiple sessions (unlike in my lab) you can select them and mass send messages or do other actions against them.

The view for an RDS farm

So yes the best Horizon helpdesk tool ever just got improved by a 100%!

 

 

 

Setting maintenance mode for Linked Clones using API’s

If you have used the VMware.hv.helper the title of this blog post might sound strange since the set-hvmachine already has a way to set maintenance mode. When Ryan Butler asked me the question this week though I didn’t think of that and dived into the api’s immediately. The machines.Machine_EnterMaintenanceMode method looked good to me and than I though of the vmware.hv.helper and noticed that with

Set-HVMachine -Maintenance ENTER_MAINTENANCE_MODE

it was also possible so set maintenance mode. The usage though made me think immediately that this was not actually using a proper api call but the update function. A quick look at the function itself confirmed this. It sets that status of the virtual machine by directly setting the status.

if ($Maintenance) {
      if ($Maintenance -eq 'ENTER_MAINTENANCE_MODE') {
        $updates += Get-MapEntry -key 'managedMachineData.inMaintenanceMode' -value $true
      } else {
        $updates += Get-MapEntry -key 'managedMachineData.inMaintenanceMode' -value $false
      }
    }
(this is just a snippet of the complete function)

If you are below version 7.5 of Horizon view it’s probably of no use to continue with the rest of this blog post. The api explorer only mentions the relevant functions since 7.5! They have been tried against 7.0.3 and 6.2 and there they don’t work.

So back to the drawing board it was and I needed to look at the API explorer, there are 4 relevant methods for maintenance mode.

As usual there are methods for multiple machines that use an array of id’s (with machines in the name) and methods for single machines id’s (without the machines in the name).

Since I usually use instant clones these days I created a small pool with three linked clones. With get-hvmachine I can show you their names and state.

(get-hvmachine -pool pod2_linked).base | select-object name,basicstate

Since I know that get-hvmachine will already give you the id of a machine it’s easy to do a one liner to set one system in maintenance mode.

 $services1.Machine.Machine_EnterMaintenanceMode((get-hvmachine -machinename p2lc001).id)

and exit maintenance mode.

 $services1.Machine.Machine_ExitMaintenanceMode((get-hvmachine -machinename p2lc001).id)

And the entire pool?

$services1.Machine.Machine_EnterMaintenanceModemachines((get-hvmachine -pool pod2_linked).id)

And exit maintenance mode for the entire pool.

$services1.Machine.Machine_ExitMaintenanceModemachines((get-hvmachine -pool pod2_linked).id)

Okay so we now know how this works but I don’t want to use to vmware.hv.helper module for this at all because I want to be able to use a list of machines or based on part of the name. That can be done using a query. The query entitytype to use is MachineSummaryView and if you use queryfiltercontains it’s also possible to use only a part of the name for a kind of wildcard selection. Combine several of these in with queryfilteror and it gives the opportunity to select them from a list.

$connectionserver="servername"
$hvserver1=connect-hvserver $connectionserver 
$Services1= $hvServer1.ExtensionData
$machines=get-content machines.txt
$queryService = New-Object VMware.Hv.QueryServiceService
$defn = New-Object VMware.Hv.QueryDefinition
$defn.queryentitytype='MachineSummaryView'
[email protected]()
foreach ($machine in $machines) {
    $queryfiltercontains=New-Object VMware.Hv.QueryFiltercontains -Property @{ 'memberName' = 'base.name'; 'value' = $machine }    
    $filterset+=$queryfiltercontains
    }
$orFilter = New-Object VMware.Hv.QueryFilterOr
$orFilter.filters = $filterSet
$defn.filter=$orFilter
$ids=($queryService.QueryService_Create($Services1, $defn)).results
$services1.Machine.Machine_EnterMaintenanceModeMachines($ids.id)
p2lc001
p2lc003

Now I replaced the names in the txt file with only p2lc00

$connectionserver="servername"
$hvserver1=connect-hvserver $connectionserver 
$Services1= $hvServer1.ExtensionData
$machines=get-content machines.txt
$queryService = New-Object VMware.Hv.QueryServiceService
$defn = New-Object VMware.Hv.QueryDefinition
$defn.queryentitytype='MachineSummaryView'
[email protected]()
foreach ($machine in $machines) {
    $queryfiltercontains=New-Object VMware.Hv.QueryFiltercontains -Property @{ 'memberName' = 'base.name'; 'value' = $machine }    
    $filterset+=$queryfiltercontains
    }
$orFilter = New-Object VMware.Hv.QueryFilterOr
$orFilter.filters = $filterSet
$defn.filter=$orFilter
$ids=($queryService.QueryService_Create($Services1, $defn)).results
$services1.Machine.Machine_ExitMaintenanceModeMachines($ids.id)

And back into maintenance mode

So this is a nice way to manage the machines and their maintenance state. Please remember that these scripts only work against horizon 7.5 and higher.

The VMware Labs flings monthly for November 2018

The year’s almost over but for me it feels like it just got started, how does it feel for you? Time certainly flies! This month there was one new fling: vSphere PKS Plugin and five have received updates: Workspace ONE UEM Profile Migration UtilityHCIBenchESXi Embedded Host ClientCross vCenter Workload Migration Utility and Workspace ONE Configuration Tool for Provisioning.

New

vSphere PKS Plugin

The vSphere PKS Plugin provides a user interface for managing and monitoring Kubernetes cluster deployments for the PKS platform. Using the vSphere PKS Plugin you can view details about your Kubernetes clusters, including master and worker nodes as well as networking configuration.

Features

The vSphere PKS Plugin:

  • Provides a graphical interface to visualize the Kubernetes clusters deployed and managed by PKS
  • Provides visibility into underlying infrastructure such as VMs, network objects and storage objects that are created when a Kubernetes cluster is deployed in a vSphere environment
  • Provides a centralized launch point for viewing components deployed with the Kubernetes cluster, including nodes and network objects such as routers, logical switches, load balancers
  • Provides a simple user interface to get easy access to the cluster using the kubectl interface and the cluster Dashboard

Updated

Workspace ONE UEM Profile Migration Utility

The Workspace ONE UEM Profile Migration Utility helps  in moving profiles between various WS One UEM Consoles.

Changelog

Version 1.6

  • Added a log file for more advanced troubleshooting and auditing. A new file in the folder called: WS1UEM-Profile-Migration-Utility-log.txt
  • Added logic to ensure the user has to hit Review button before Create
  • Fixed a bug where the Status wouldn’t clear if selecting a new Profile therefore the user was unable to tell if the new Create Profile was successful

HCIBench

The HCIBench is a Hyperconverged Infrastructure Benchmark build around VDbench.

Changelog

Version 1.6.8.1

  • Fixed regression when datastore is in the datastore folder
  • Avoid checking connection to host directly and use tvm deployment instead
  • Added Vdbench version check in summary script

Version 1.6.8

  • Added resource pool and VM folder fields for VMC environment
  • Fixed easy-run disk size issue
  • Enhanced pre-validation error message handling
  • Changed the names of network interface from “Public Network” to “Management Network”, and “Private Network” to “VM Network”

ESXi Embedded Host Client

While the ESXi embedded host client has been officially released for 5.5, 6, 6.5 and 6.7 the fling gets all the latest updates.

Changelog

Version 1.32.0 build 10692217 (Fling 22) – November 2, 2018

  • Import / Export
    • Iso files and nvram files can now be exported and imported (if suppored by the esx version)
    • Files can be individually selected when exporting
    • All advanced vm config options are exported by default
    • Several bug fixes related to the export wizard
  • General
    • Permissions previews now display correctly
    • Support Bundles are now generated on the fly
    • Domain user functionality has been restored
    • Fibre Channel WWNs are displayed in hex

Cross vCenter Workload Migration Utility

If you want to use a gui to move vm’s between different vCenter servers than the Cross vCenter Workload Migration Utility is the tool to use.

Changelog

Version 2.5, November 5, 2018

  • Remember registered site information (without password)
  • Easily retry a previously attempted task in case of failures
  • Search box for keyword filtering of migration task history
  • Option to clear task history by removing completed tasks
  • Added documentation and other links under the help menu
  • Partial fix for an issue related to duplicate network names

Workspace ONE Configuration Tool for Provisioning

The Workspace ONE Configuration Tool for Provisioning assists in building unattend.xml configuration files that can be used by Dell (or others when more provide the service) when delivering systems from the factory to set them up for your environment.

Changelog

Release Update – Version 2.0.0

Improvements

  • The version number is shown in the window title
  • The version number is shown as a comment in the generated XML
  • The product key is now validated to conform with the 11111-11111-11111-11111-11111 pattern
  • Split the locale settings into ‘Operating System Language’, and ‘Region and Keyboard Settings’.
  • ‘Operating System Language’ maps to the language of the operating system installation media, and ‘Region and Keyboard Settings’ maps to the locale settings available to the user during OOBE
  • ‘Operating System Language’ is now a required field as it is needed for certain customizations, such as adding a user to the administrators group
  • Removed the ability to set a custom computer name. The computer name now defaults to ‘*’, which causes the Windows OS to generate a random name, taking up to seven characters from the ‘Registered Organization’ field plus eight random characters. This change makes sure every computer has a unique name on the network.
  • The ‘Auto Admin Logon’ feature is no longer selectable. Instead, it will be activated when it is required by the deployment scenario.
  • All deployment scenarios now allow for the creation of a local user.
  • Moved the node from the ‘oobeSystem’ pass to the ‘specialize’ pass
    to be consistent with the node

Bug Fixes

  • Auto Admin Logon would only work with an unattend XML generated for an en-US installation image
  • Enabled the ASSIGNEDTOLOGGEDINUSER=Y flag to enable the WS1 agent to correctly enroll the user in the ‘Workgroup’ deployment scenario
  • Fixed an issue where the ‘Show Privacy Settings’ option would have no effect

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.

https://twitter.com/tbuckholz/status/1044243355977351168

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.

VMworld US 2018 report day 0 – T-Rex with a beer

So before things really start on Monday there’s always day 0 for VMworld. The VM village opens up and, in the evening,, there is the welcome reception at the Solution Exchange. For me things started after a rough night without a lot of sleep by registering and getting the badge. Things really looked like they were messed up and there where awful queues with people waiting for their badges. Luckily something went wrong with mine and I was helped by the staff at the assisted check-in pretty fast.

https://twitter.com/AngeloLuciani/status/1033751920005931013

After spending some time in the VM village with some awesome people it was time to head out for my first real thing: an expert led workshop on pulse & IOT. This was really interesting, and I even managed to put in some feedback that was appreciated.

In the afternoon I visited the EUC Inside track event at Top Golf (please stop me from walking that way again) before heading out to the Solution Exchange for a small vExpert gift scavenger hunt. I closed out the evening at the VCDX Wolfpack part at the Cosmopolitan.

Day 0 ended with just over 26000 steps registered.

What’s (in) my backpack for @VMworld US 2018

I did a similar post for Nutanix .Next in Nice last year and there won’t be a lot of differences with that one. There will be some differences though since I need some world plugs for my european equipment plus I changed employers so I have a new laptop with new stickers (please help me to stay away from paper stickers, those are hell to remove). With less then two weeks to go for the event I don’t think a lot will change after this post. There’s a good chance that I will take a pass on the official VMworld backpack since I have enough of them now + there’s now the option to choose a charity over it.

First my bag, while I normally sport the 2016 Cohesity vExpert Timbuk2 backpack or a more recently received Nutanix Wenger backpack for daily use I decided to go with the XD Design Bobby backpack that I received the day that I started with my current employer AnylinQ. These have a great surface for customizing them with stickers as you can see below.

For the tech in it some things have changed, the laptop has been replaced by a newer generation so now I have the HP Probook 440 G5 + a Microsoft designer mouse has been added to replace the Xiaomi mouse. For the rest it’s still the Sony MDR-ZX770BN headset, an older Xiaomi 10k battery pack, Roundcube Rewirable  USB Travel adapter and the good old (hey, it’s over a year old now!) Samsung A5 2017 phone. All loose stuff will again by packed into the same Bubm DIS-L case.