November 6th, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

With the Windows template set and our first VM working, its time to make an ESXi template we will use in the home lab.  I mean it is small – I typically install with only a 1GB OS drive but why not use the features in VMware Workstation, so I am going to setup a clone.  Setting up the ESXi VM is pretty much the same as what we did in part 1, so I am not going to rehash that (hopefully you learned something in part 1) but I’ll note some tips here none the less.

First, when creating the disk use only 1024MB, ESXi will install fine for our use it just won’t have any place for logs but that is okay, we will fix that later.  Also, while VMware Workstation should take care of this when you select ESX as your VM type, check to make sure Virutalize Intel VT-x/EPT or AMD-V/RVI is enabled in the processor section in Virtual Machine Settings.   Finally, mount your ESXi ISO in your CD/DVD drive and power on the VM.

While it has been documented pretty well, I will walk through the ESXi install steps here for completeness.  Also, once you click into the console, you will lose control of your mouse since ESXi doesn’t have VMware Tools installed, press CTL-ALT to return it to your computer

  • Boot the VM with the ESXi CD mounted
  • After a few moments the Welcome to the VMware ESXi 5.5.0 Installation screen will appear, press the enter button to continue
  • Press F11 to accept the EULA (tip, if you are on a laptop or keyboard with extra features on the F keys, you may have to hold down the FN or function key
  • The only drive available should be the 1GB drive create during the VM setup, ensure it is highlighted in yellow and press the enter button
  • Select your keyboard layout and press Enter
  • Type in the root password, arrow down to enter it again and press enter
  • After  a few moments, the Confirm Install page will appear, press F11 to install
  • Once the install completes, press Enter one last time to restart the server

Now that we have the base ESXi install done, it is time to install a couple of extra Flings into our ESXi template – VMware Tools for ESXi and the ESXi Mac Learning dvFilter.  In order to install these, we need to log into the console of our ESXi virtual machine in VMware Workstation; click into the console and press the F2 button to get started.

  • Log in as root and the password you set previously
  • Arrow down to Troubleshooting Options and press enter
  • Arrow down to enable SSH and press enter; the SSH status in the right/gray side of the screen should change from Disabled to Enabled
Enabling SSH for ESXi via the DCUI

Enabling SSH for ESXi via the DCUI

  • Now press the ESX button until you return to the main screen with the IP address ESXi pulled from DHCP
  • Open your favorite SSH client and connect to that IP address
  • Log in as root
  • I am assuming you have internet access here, so it is actually quite easy to install these components, copy and paste the commands below into you SSH session.  If you do not have internet access, you will first need to download the VIBs, upload them to the ESXi virtual machine and install from that location (just edit http path in the below commands and replace with your file system path

To install VMware Tools:

esxcli software vib install -v -f

To install Mac Learning dvFilter

esxcli software vib install -v -f

You should receive a message that the VIBs were installed like the image below

ESXi VIB install for VMware Tools and Mac Learning dvFilter

ESXi VIB install for VMware Tools and Mac Learning dvFilter

Note the dvFilter is installed here for testing purposes, since my home lab is built on Windows and VMware Workstation, typically  you would install this on your physical ESXi hosts running ESXi virtual machines.  Now that we have done that we “could” power down the ESXi VM we just built and start using it as a template, however we would need to manually reset ESXi every time we cloned it (and if you are doing this in a FC storage based environment you will need to do that anyways) but why would we want to do that.  The following steps are courtesy of William Lam and, check out his site and the blog post for full details on resetting the virtual machine.  Since we do not have any VMFS datastores, there are only two steps we need to do before cloning, then once the ESXi virtual machine is clone you will need to log in and set networking information before we join them to vCenter (to be installed shortly).

  • From the SSH session, run the following from William’s article:
esxcli system settings advanced set -o /Net/FollowHardwareMac -i 1
  • Next, remove /system/uuid from esx.conf.  Open it in vi, arrow down until you find the /system/uuid line and press dd on your keyboard, then press esc : wq
vi /etc/vmware/esx.conf
  • Log out of the SSH client
  • Return to the ESXi DCUI and disable SSH
  • Press ESC twice to return to the main DCUI page and press the F12 button, enter the root password and then press F2 to shut down the VM

Once the virtual machine powers off take a snapshot to use for future cloning.  You should have two VMs in your template folder, along with your running Windows linked clone which is current a domain controller.  You are now ready to start cloning your nested ESXi virtual machines.

As a side note, and not required, you may also want to install the simple web client, an open source(?) simple client so you can manage the ESXi host without the DCUI or vSphere Client.  You can find this project on GitHub.



VMware Workstaion Home Lab Setup Part 5 – ESXi Template

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November 4th, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

*Disclaimer – I work for EMC.  I was not asked to write this post nor was it reviewed/approved by my employer prior to publishing.  It is simply based on my learning experience as I get to know this solution*

I’ve had the opportunity for the last few days to spend some time getting to know EMC VPLEX, and wow – I wish I knew about this a few years ago.  VPLEX enables continuous available of storage arrays either locally (Local) or over distance (Metro and Geo).  In addition of continuous availability in the event of array maintenance or failure it also provides the means to migrate data from different arrays.  Now before you keep reading know that I am still learning about this solution as well – if you know this solution well and I’ve got something wrong here please let me know.

VPLEX works by sitting between the hosts and storage arrays.  Rather than zoning a host to a physical array, you zone the host to the VPLEX.  Then the VPLEX is zoned to the storage array to present available storage to the host.  Since my host is access storage through the VPLEX, and not on the array directly I can take out entire physical arrays behind the VPLEX and depending on my configuration have no affect on the host or the availability of storage.

Of particular interest to me is the Metro configuration, I could stretch a distributed volume and VMware cluster across data centers (assuming < 5ms round trip between data centers) and in the event of a site outage have access to my original virtual infrastructure.  Now a site outage could be many things – an array failure, network failure or natural disaster scenario that takes out accessibility to that physical location.  I had the opportunity in a course I was teaching last week to have some folks who helped me whiteboard what this looks like:

Whiteboarding a VPLEX Metro

VPLEX Metro whiteboard session

VPLEX Metro whiteboard session

What we have here are two arrays behind a VPLEX Metro setup – one array each in site A and B and one VPLEX in site A and B.  A distributed volume is created on the VPLEX and hosts are zoned to the VPLEX like you would typically directly to the array.  Since it is zoned to the VPLEX, and the VPLEX is setup in a Metro configuration each host can access the VPLEX in each site.  If a site fails, multipathing rules for the host would move to the VPLEX in site B and continue operation.  The witness in the middle is in a 3rd failure domain and used to monitor the VPLEXs to ensure the failure is not just communication between the VPLEXs and manage VPLEX rules appropriately.

Now as I said in the beginning I am still getting to know VPLEX, if you want to learn more check out the free EMC Education Services VPLEX eLearning on ECN.  There is also a VPLEX practice test available if you want to test your VPLEX knowledge after the eLearning and figure out what, if any other training  you want to purse.

Getting to know EMC VPLEX

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October 2nd, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

News of the new VCP5-DCV delta exam (VCP550D) was bitter sweet for me.  Not minutes before the announcement I decided it couldn’t push back my VCAP-DCA any longer or risk needing to re-take the VCP exam to remain certified for 2 more years…now I have another excuse not to dive in.  However, after carefully reviewing the blueprint published at I found that they blueprints are almost idential – I actually had to look several times to make sure I wasn’t looking at the wrong blueprint!

So, what’s new?

  • Objective 3.3 – Configure and Administer Software Defined Storage:  This objective is focused entirely on VSAN

Yup…that’s it – one new section in the blueprint.  This feels a bit more like a new version of the 5.5 VCP, time will tell once I take the “delta” exam.  Of course this exam is intended for differences between 5.0 and 5.5 yet is still 65 questions.  Curious if anyone has already taken the plunge?

New VCP-DCV VCP550D Delta Exam…what’s different?

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July 9th, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

Why, because you may not be a SQL person, so here it is!

You’ve probably download SQL Server 2012 as a DVD ISO, move the ISO some place accessible by your server; maybe a datastore where you can mount the ISO or expanded so you can access the files directly on the server – I have mine save to the desktop of the server I am installing it on.

  • Double click setup.exe, click the Yes button on the User Account Control dialog box
  • Click on Installation


  •  On the installation page, we will do a New SQL Server stand-alone installation.  If you were setting up a failover cluster or upgrading you could select those options, however we will not get into that here.
  • The installation will check to ensure it can be installed, verifying you have administrator permissions, .NET, etc (click the image below to see the checks), if there are no errors click the OK button to continue.


  • Next, enter your product key or select the Specify a free edition radio button which will allow you to install the full version in Evaluation mode or the free Express version and click the Next button
  • Accept the license terms and click the Next button
  • You can chose to check for updates, or not, for example your lab may be isolated.  Click the Next button.
  • The installation of setup files will now start


  • The installer will then check several additional setup requirements, fix any warnings or errors.  For example if Windows Firewall is enabled you will get a warning to remind you to open ports.  I’ve opted to disable Windows Firewall for local network traffic between my servers.  Once you are set, click the Next button.
  • Select which set of feature sets you wish to install, the default SQL Server Feature Installation will allow you to select the components you want in the next step, so click Next!
  • At a minimum, select Database Engine and Management Tools – Complete.  You can chose to install others such as replication if you want to test those.  On this screen you also select the install directory.  In production cases I like to keep this on its own drive/LUN if possible though you may just install on the OS drive.
  • A third set of installation verification will run, click the Next button.
  • Now, you can chose to install a default instance or a named instance.  Named instances allow you to run separate SQL executables to really isoalte databases, for example in a multi-tenant environment where security requirements are very script and do not allow for database level security.  Choose Default instance and click the Next button.


  • The installer will verify you have adequate space on the destination drive, click the Next button.
  • On the Server Configuration page you will define the accounts under which these services will run and whether they should start manually or automatically.  Make sure to change SQL Server Agent to start automatically.  There is also a Collation tab; certain applications require a specific Collation setting – verify which you need and select accordingly though this can be changed latter, click the Next button.


  • The Database Engine Configuration screen is one of the most important in my opinion.  On this screen you select your authentication mode – Windows or Mixed.  Many applications require Mixed Mode so the application can authenticate directly to the SQL server.  Understand your application requirements and select appropriately.  Another important item set on this page is Data Directories (not sure why this is “hidden” on its own tab), here you can define the location of your database and log files.  In production environments these typically are on separate LUNS to support the database workload.  Both of these can be changed later, but know you can set them here.
  • Select Mixed Mode and enter a strong SA (the “System Administrator” account) password and click the Add Current User button to ensure the account you are installing as has permission to manage SQL.  If required, change the data directories then click the Next button.


  • Decide whether you want to enable error reporting and click the Next button.
  • Yet another validation check, click Next if there are no errors.
  • Finally, verify all of the settings you selected and click the Install button.


  • Depending on the capabilities of your server, SQL will be ready in a few minutes…or in a lower powered lab it may be time to grab lunch.
  • Once the install finishes, verify everything was successful and click the close button, you should  now be able to launch the SQL Server Management Studio and connect to your server.  You can log in using Windows authentication with the account you added during installation, or SQL Server authentication using the SA user and password set during installation.



One last item you might like to do is verify that TCP/IP is enabled, this is done by launching SQL Server Configuration Manager.  I believe this was changed in 2008, in 2005 the default was to leave TCP/IP disabled, because you know who needs network access to SQL services but I still like to check :)  Happy SQL’ing!


How to install Microsoft SQL Server 2012

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June 4th, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

**Disclaimer:  I am an EMC employee.  This post is my opinion of the test and training materials and was not paid for, asked for, required, reviewed or edited by anyone at EMC other than myself. **

Last week I passed the EMC Cloud Infrastructure and Services (EMCCIS), the first step in achieving the Cloud Architect Expert certification.  Having taken CompTIA (A+, Network+, iNet+), Microsoft (MCSE 2000), Cisco (CCNA) and VMware (VCP-DCV, VCAP-DCD) I can say that this particular exam and related course work are quite a bit different than what I am used to.

I think all of the exams I have taken have focused on a very specific product or technology (CompTIA being vendor agnostic), however the Cloud Infrastructure and Services exams really focused on process and design considerations versus just knowing how a specific piece of EMC technology worked.  This exam was very broad, and covered areas such as storage (obviously!), virtualization, security and business process.  While many exams may expect you to know how to make certain features work, this exam wanted you to know how different processes and disciplines applied to a business, for example  understanding the role of Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC); something that all of us should think about every day but is generally out of sight from our every day lives as vPeople.  There were a few “exam questions” but that is par for the course on any technical certification test (at least that I’ve taken).

The exam is broken into a few different sections including:

  • The Classic Data Center covering topics such as networking, storage, and management
  • The Virtual Data Center with various sections to cover compute, storage, networking, VDI and backup/business continuity
  • Cloud Computing covering the types of services available (this IaaS, PaaS, etc…), management and security

If you have been working with virtualization, storage and cloud computing for several years, you might pass this test without any study (there are no class requirements) however there were some concepts I had not considered which caught me off guard.

Given what I learned through the training and test, I am looking forward to taking the Virtualized Data Center and  Cloud Infrastructure Planning and Design, the “specialist” level which is the next step moving towards Cloud Architect.  You can find out more about the Cloud Architect track here (

Exam Recap – EMC Cloud Infrastructure and Services #EMCProven #CloudArchitect

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