February 9th, 2017 by NerdBlurt

One of the most dreaded things for me is dealing with budget, more so when I do not have visibility into the budget. So many times have I requested something and been told “it’s not in the budget”. Has this ever happened to you? What if your job is the budget? Are you using a bunch of tools to keep track or a custom excel sheet?

IT Budget TemplateYou are a small IT shop or small business, and IT budgeting is new to you, where do you start?  Have I got good news for you, the folks over at turbonomic have created a FREE IT budget template. I personally love starting with templates as they give me a starting point and save me time.

This IT budget template was developed between turbonomic and some of it’s customers, meaning the real world value is there. I have seen other templates before and I have to say this one is a great starting point.

Download the Template 

As a small business or even figuring out finances for a home lab setup here are some things to keep in mind.

Things to Consider

Software Licenses – Software is the pinnacle of IT spend, There are some with yearly support costs, initial buy pricing, yearly renewals. Keeping track of this will help you maintain and plan your spending. More importantly you may find that you are over spending on licenses that you are paying for and could result in a savings.

Infrastructure – The cost of buying servers and storage is definitely something you want to plan for in your budget. Not only do you have to account for the cost of the infrastructure, you have to plan for the support contracts on that.

Training – The most important part of your finance to plan for and most over looked. The best way for your company to get the most out of both your software and infrastructure investments is deeper understanding on how to utilize it to it’s full potential.

Download the IT Budget Template 

Nerd’s Blurt

Staying on track of your budget is vital, I wanted to share this free template from turbonomic with you all, as it can help you. Did I mention it was free? I love that part and yes I downloaded it myself and will say it is done very well. Simple to understand, if you are a beginner or just want a better way give it a look.

Download the Template 

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February 9th, 2015 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

Generally, installing virtual appliances has been pretty straight forward – import an OVA and enter the necessary details in the deployment wizard, or access the virtual appliances management interface (such as those typically on port 5480 from VMware). However, as of the Release Candidate for VMware vSphere 6.0, the vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) installation takes a much different approach than what you’ve been used to.

A few vCenter Server Appliance prerequisites

First, it should be noted that you can only install the vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) from Windows. I was first turned onto the VCSA because I was at an all OSX/Linux shop so it made sense to use something we were accustomed to using already. For now, you’ll need a Windows box to at least get the appliance deployed;  then you can punt (please note also this is based on Release Candidate (RC) code and could change in the final release).

You CAN deploy the VCSA 6.0 to both ESXi 5.5 or 6.0 host. If you currently have a 5.5 environment you can deploy the VCSA without upgrading your hosts, but if you did not take  the plunge into 5.5 you’ll have to bring at least one host online running 5.5. or 6.0.

Finally, before getting started, you MUST create DNS records before running the installer. I was struggling with the new installer because I’ve just been used to doing my DNS records after I deployed the VCSA, but before running the setup through the management interface. However with a little help from Emad Younis (@Emad_Younis) I was able to point me in the right direction. With 6.0 all of the configuration is done from the initial setup wizard. When it’s finished installing, vCenter is ready to run.

The installation wizard will NOT give you an error if this does not exist, instead it will fail during the installation!

As you can see here I have my forward and reverse DNS records ready to go on .9

vwmare-vcsa-dns

Installing the vCenter Server Appliance

As with the older versions of the VCSA, it all starts with a download; however in this case you will be downloading an ISO image. Once the ISO image is downloaded either mount the ISO on your Windows box or extract the ISOs into a folder (as seen here).

vmware-vcsa-iso-extracted

Now that you have access to the files, drill down into the vcsa folder, there you will find the VMware-ClientIntegrationPlugin-6.0.0. Install this application on your Windows box (double click, Next, Accept/Next, Next, Install, Finish). Once the plugin finishes installing, back up one folder level and open the index file. As you can see here I am on Windows Server 2012, thus at least IE10 however opening the index in IE10 gives me a warning that I need to upgrade to at least IE10 or 11, so yea I’m going with Chrome. As with any plugin, you must enable it in Chrome. Click on the puzzle piece with the red x, then click Always allow and refresh the page and click the Allow button.

vmware-vcsa-chrome-enable-plugin

You should now see the vCenter icon along with a large Install button, click on it. You will get a UI very similar to what you would get deploying a virtual appliance.

vmware-vcsa-6 -installer

1.  After carefully reading the license agreement, printing it for your records, and having it signed by an attorney, click the I accept… check box and click Next.

2.  Now you can chose to deploy to your target server. Specify your ESXi host (5.5 or above!), username and password – now click Next.

If you are using self signed/untrusted certificates click Yes when prompted.

3.  The next step is to name your appliance. In my case, like I have created in DNS, my appliance name will be vxprt-vc02.vxprt.local. Click Next

4.  On the deployment type you can chose to install an embedded Platform Services Controller (which includes Single Sign-On in vSphere 6.0), just the the PSC, or just vCenter. You can have multiple Platform Services Controllers, and they can be different types. For example you could do a stand-alone PSC and have an embedded one with the VCSA. When the installer says “embedded” it really just means the components will be installed on the same virtual appliance as vCenter. I’ll be doing embedded here. Click Next

5.  Chose whether you have an existing SSO domain or you will be creating a new one. I will do this install as a greenfield type deployment, so select Configure Single Sign-On. Now enter the administrator password, and domain. To stay consistent with what I know about SSO, I’ll enter vsphere.local here. Click Next.

VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) step 5 - configure SSO

VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) step 5 – configure SSO

6.  Select the appliance size that supports your environment, including the new “tiny” deployment for up to 20 hosts. Click Next

7.  Select the datastore you will to install to, and whether to THIN PROVISION the vmdk (no VMware, I’m not calling it “Thin Disk Mode” – THIN PROVISION!). Click Next

8.  If you’re an Oracle shop, you have a choice on step 8, otherwise just click Next.

9.  Chose a network (this will be based on the host you deployed to), and how to assign IP information including the host name – This MUST match DNS. I’ll select static as that is what I would want to do for this type of server. Finally enter the NTP server and click next (I’ve also enabled SSH so I can connect directly to the virtual machine.

VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) installation - Network Settings

VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) installation – Network Settings

10.  Review the settings you’ve enter, make sure your IP information and host name are all correct and click Finish. The installation of vCenter and the VCSA will start. You’ll even see it installing packages, that’s right this is a ground up build, not just a bunch of packages pre-installed on a virtual machine!

VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) installation process

VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) installation process

Once the installation is complete, you can connect to https://fqdn/vsphere-client (no more 9443! One less question on the VCP6 I guess :) ).

vmware-vcsa-6-installation-completeLog in as the [email protected] you configured during the installation.

vmware-vcsa-6-vsphere-web-client

So far on the release candidate I’ve had trouble deploying to a port group on a VDS (it gives errors almost immediately) even though it appears as a valid port group on the network settings page. It would be nice if VMware added more validation on the various steps to ensure there will be no errors during the installation. If you do run into an error, you need to re-run the installation wizard.

Installing the VMware vCenter Server Appliance 6.0 VCSA

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February 3rd, 2015 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

**Please note that the installation steps here and requirements are based on beta and release versions of ESXi 6.**

Installing VMware ESXi 6 is just as straight forward as ever, of course you’ll want to make sure your hardware is on the VMware HCL and you meet the necessary system requirements:

  • 64-bit x86 processor with VT-x or AMD-V enabled in the BIOS
  • NX/XD enabled in the BIOS
  • Dual-core/dual processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 1GB of local storage

Of course those are minimums and you won’t get much virtualized with those specs, but alas that is likely fine for lab and testing purposes.  For the installation, I typically suggest USB or SD card.  This saves your physical disks, either locally or in a boot from SAN configuration free for VM related IO.  If you have local disks and flash based drives in your system, you can enable VSAN for example to provide shared storage in from the local storage in your hosts. There are other requirements for VSAN that I’ll touch on in another post (or check out yellow-bricks or cormachogan.com/)

The local storage is the bare minimum required. With only 1GB there are a few extra steps after the installation to define a location for log storage but its a simple step. If you want storage for log files as part of your boot media, you will need at least 5.2GB. When you reach the root password step, usually I start with something easy to type so when I log into the console interface (DCUI) after the installation and add the hosts to vCenter I’m not “infomercial bumbling” for the password. Later I can then rip a PowerCLI script through the environment to change to a more complex password.

Burn the ISO do a CD or mount it in your remote console (e.g UCS, iLO, DRAC or vSphere/Workstation/Fusion for your nested home lab) and power on the computer.

The ISO will launch into the installer:

  • Press Enter to start the installation wizard

1-esxi-6-install-welcome

  • Press F11 to accept the EULA
  • Select the disk you wish to install ESXi on to and press enter

2-esxi-6-install-select-disk

  • Select the keyboard layout and press enter
  • Enter your root password and press enter (at this point I tend to use something easy to type, just make sure to change later if you follow this)

3-esxi-6-install-password

  • Press F11 to start the installation

4-esxi-6-install-f11-install

  • Remove the installation media and press enter to reboot

Once you have restarted, you will be at the Direct Console User Interface, aka the DCUI. That is it, installing ESXi, assuming you have the prereqs in place is quite straight forward, configuration on the other hand – well that depends on your environment and your business requirements. If you are installing ESXi in your lab as a nested virtual machine you may also want to consider VMware Tools for ESXi.

Back to basics – Installing VMware ESXi 6

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December 4th, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

In part 4 we published an application blueprint through Application Serivces, that is pretty awesome but we still really haven’t done anything just yet.  I mean its all just about working but the real hard part is creating the application blueprints.  Just for fun, lets create a generic blueprint and run a deployment.  While logged into Application Services go to Applications and click on the green + (plus) button to create a new application.

  • Name the application and select a business group, if you’ve followed along my various home lab series you would select StarWars here since it is the only business group we gave permission to in vRealize Automation.
  • Click save, click Create Application Version then click Save
  • Now you are able to create a blueprint; click Create Blueprint
  • Drag the logical template to the design pane, again if you’re following along with me this would be the CentOS 64 logical template
VMware Application Services / Application Director application designer

VMware Application Services / Application Director application designer

  • Now all this would do is create a virtual machine like you could do through vRealize Automation or vSphere; here however we also have several preconfigured services we can drag into our logical template to install applications.
  • Let’s do a typical single node web and database server
  • Drag Apache, vFabric RabbitMQ and and vFabric Postgres into the logical template, it should look something like this:

apps-app-services-addedNow one of the hardest parts about automating something is now all the dependencies.  In this scenario I happen to know a few things are missing, not because I am a genius but because I went through several iterations of this blueprint before getting it to work.  This, however also allows me to demo some other features of Application Services.  In my CentOS template, SELinux is enabled – now I could convert my template to a virtual machine, disable it, clean up the virtual machine machine again and convert it back to a template.  It’s what I would have done not 6-8 months ago.  Now, however, I’ll simply use the tools available to me, tools like Application Services or Ansible to put the virtual machine into the state I want it:

  • From the Application Components page, drag two “script” items into the logical template
  • Edit the first script by clicking on it; name it (no spaces), click on Actions, click “Click here to Edit,” copy the following into the window and click the reboot checkbox

#!/bin/bash
# set SELinux disabled
cp /etc/selinux/config /etc/selinux/config.bak
sed -i s/SELINUX=permissive/SELINUX=disabled/g /etc/selinux/config

  • SELinux will now be disabled upon reboot.
  • We also have to tweak the EPEL install to allow it to pull data properly (seems to be a known issues right now).  Rather than letting the EPEL package install as part of the services we used earlier, we can also do that in a script and configure the options we need for it to work.
  • Edit the 2nd script as you did before but copy the following into the window

#!/bin/bash
# install EPEL
yum -y install http://dl.fedoraproject.org/pub/epel/6/x86_64/epel-release-6-8.noarch.rpm
sed -i “s/mirrorlist=https/mirrorlist=http/” /etc/yum.repos.d/epel.repo

  • Click the OK button, you should now see something like this:

apps-blueprint-configd

  • Now click the deploy button, name the deployment, and select the business group
  • Click Map Details, ensure all details match what you have setup, and click Next
  • Provide a name to your virtual machine and edit CPU and memory as needed (and to match your vRA blueprint limits) – click Next
  • Review the deployment blueprint and click Next
  • Click the deploy  button (you could also publish to vRA here as we did in part 4, but I’m just demonstrating the deployment)
  • The deployment will start

Now at one point I wasn’t sure it was working, I could see Application Services say it was working (system was under 80-90% load consistently) however I wanted to see what vSphere was doing.  As you an see in the two screenshots below, the virtual machines are being deployed as you might expect (they are from two different deployments so yes the dates are different)

Application Services - virtual machined deployed via the web client

Application Services – virtual machined deployed via the web client

VMware Application Services deployment viewed in vSphere Client

VMware Application Services deployment viewed in vSphere Client

In addition, you can zoom in on the Execution Plan pane to see what step the deployment is currently on

Application Services provisioning a virtual machine

Application Services provisioning a virtual machine

This process took quite a while in my lab, but it I am pretty resource bound now.  Now, as I mentioned this is an iterative processes, good chance it may have failed in your environment, review errors and run the deployment again.  After working through any specific environment issues you should be able to successfully deploy the application components.

apps-successful

Deploy an Application Blueprint – Application Services Series Part 5

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December 3rd, 2014 by NerdBlurt

It is that time of year again where the folks over at ProfessionalVMware.com are giving back to the community, with their End of Year Mega Give-Away!! I call it the Mega Giveaway, because they are giving away some awesome stuff over there! They have some really great sponsors to include my Business Unit with-in HP Big Data Information Management Group (try to say that 5x’s fast!)

It is no surprise that we are getting more involved in the community, I LOVE the community!!

Prizes

Prizes Include:

  • Disk Station DS413+ from Synology and 2x 2TB Seagate drives from Jonathan Frappier
  • HP MicroServer from HP Data Protection – @HPBACKUP
  • Home Lab Kit from ClearPath Solutions Group
  • 120GB SSD from Micro
  • Cloud Architect DVD Series from EMC Education Services
  • Swag Bag from Veeam
  • Mastering vSphere 5.5 from Nick Marshall
  • OpenStack Cloud Computing Cookbook from Cody Bunch

How to Enter

Simply head over to This Link and fill out the form! Please read all the Rules!!

Nerd’s Blurt

I love the community and being able to give back!! If you are appreciative of HP Backup for sponsoring let them know by simply tweeting Thanks for Sponsoring the #vBrownbag and Community to @HPBACKUP & @NerdBlurt on Twitter – This could help me to get us to do more so please tweet away!! 

So what are you waiting for go enter the Mega Giveaway!!

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