May 29th, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

I wanted to specifically call out this comparison was done for my home lab, specifically to provide basic internet access for my isolated physical ESXi host which would run several nested ESXi VMs and other support VMs such as AD and vCenter.  Whether Untangle or Vyatta is right for you will come down to your specific project, and the requirements for that project.  My requirement was to have an easy to configure virtual router running in VMware Workstation to provide access to an isolated  network that would not otherwise be able to communicate with my home router.

Most of the work in either case for me was in VMware Workstation, setting up proper bridging on my “home” computer which uses the WLAN adapter for every day internet access – this would end up being the “external” interface for my virtual router and the LAN connection which is connected to a switch along with the VMkernel interface for my physical ESXi host (8-core 32GB home lab build notes here).

Once the networking was setup, next stop was Vyatta Community Edition, I’m not sure what Brocade is doing with the site, but I had quite a hard time accessing it and was ready to give up until one night it worked and I was able to download the bits.  I created a VM with two network interfaces, one on each network segment and powered up the VM.  I had expected an installation process to start, but alas it did not, it had to be manually started.  After a bit of messing around and reading these two posts (install and DNS/NAT) I thought I’d be just about set.  From my Vyatta router I could ping (internet working) but my physical host could not.  After reading through the Vyatta documentation here and making a few more changes I thought a reboot would be in order.   When my VM came back up I could no longer ping, I started looking around and none of my configuration was preserved!  I set it back up only to run into the same road block – it wasn’t working and I’m not interested in becoming a Vyatta Certified network admin/engineer.  Time to punt and try something else.

My next try was using Untangle.  I was using the same VMware Workstation VM and network configuration.  I powered on the VM, was prompted to run through an installer (as I’d expect when booting from an ISO/installer image) and configured the networking the same way I had (tried) with Vyatta.  The results, however, were much different.  With essentially no effort (other than the network setup in Workstation) I not only had internet access from the Untangle / router VM but also from my ESXi hosts which were using it as the Default Gateway.

While this isn’t a true bake off, feature for feature or comparing the power of each, I can say that Untangle was far simpler for a basic setup.  Vyatta may well be the more powerful option, but as I stated earlier right now I really have no desire to learn yet another CLI, I’m quite happy keeping my Cisco CLI vaulted and don’t want to burn those brain cells for something I’m unlikely to use in production.  If I end up on a project with different requirements, maybe I’ll find Vyatta gain but for now its Untangle!

Untangle vs Vyatta for home lab use

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April 10th, 2014 by JFrappier

Jonathan Frappier Virtxpert

Trying to configure some vSwitches via PowerCLI, as I am trying to learn I am looking a the command references and walking through each one by one, and found one that needs a bit of stringing together.  So in this scenario I have the basics setup on each ESXi host with the management network configured on vmic0 via the DCUI post the initial installation .  With that done, each were added to vCenter so now I wanted to add  another uplink for redundancy.

Get-VMHost hostname | Get-VirtualSwitch -name vSwitch0 | Set-VirtualSwitch -Nic vmnic0, vmnic1

All looked swimmingly well, but I expected my warnings about not having management network redundancy to disappear – it did not.  Looking at the vSwtich, the Management Network port group, vmnic1 was unused for the management network port group since the Failover order override box was ticked, presumably done during the initial setup since I selected vmnic0 via the DCUI.  So adding the vmnics was pretty easy, but setting the failover order and load balancing policy not quite as straight forward.

The command to change the failover order, and update the load balancing policy looks like this:

Get-VirtualSwitch -VMHost $VMHost -name $VSSName | Get-VirtualPortGroup | where {$_.Name -like "$PortGroupName"} | Get-NicTeamingPolicy | Set-NicTeamingPolicy -MakeNicActive $ActUplink -MakeNicStandby $StdByUplink -LoadBalancingPolicy $LBPol

So, first I am getting the virtual switch from a specific host, get the virtual port group for the specified port group, then getting the NIC teaming policy before setting it.  Here is the script I used which looped through all the hosts in my cluster to configure this.   It should be re-usable for any port group, on any vSwitch with any type of load balancing policy but I’ve not tested so use at your own risk!  I also want to update the logging logic a bit but time, reasons, and things.

# Script to create update default vSphere Standard vSwitch on all hosts in a cluster to have redundant uplinks in an Active/Standby configuration
# Logging portion thanks to Sam McGeown

# Set PowerCLI Options
Set-PowerCLIConfiguration -InvalidCertificateAction Ignore -Confirm:$false | Out-Null

# Collect VM Cluster information
$VCSrv = Read-Host "Enter the name of the vCenter Server"
$VCCl = Read-Host "Enter the name of the cluster"
$VSSName = Read-Host "Enter the name of the vSwitch containing the Management Network port group"
$ActUplink = Read-Host "Enter the name of the vmnic that will be active"
$StdByUplink = Read-Host "Enter the name of the vmnic that will be standby"
$LBPol = Read-Host "Enter the load balance policy (LoadBalanceIP, LoadBalanceSrcMac, LoadBalanceSrcId, ExplicitFailover)"
$PortGroupName = Read-Host "Enter the name of the port group you wish to update"

# Setup log file stored in the folder the script is run from
$LogFile = "Change-HostvSwitch.csv"
# Rename the old log file, if it exists
if(Test-Path $LogFile) {
$DateString = Get-Date((Get-Item $LogFile).LastWriteTIme) -format MMddyyyy
Move-Item $LogFile "$LogFile.$DateString.csv" -Force -Confirm:$false
# Add some CSV headers to the log file
Add-Content $Logfile "Date,Host,Status"

# Get host inventory from cluster
Connect-VIServer $VCSrv
$ClHost = Get-Cluster $VCCl | Get-VMHost

# Reset Password for root on each host in the cluster
ForEach ($VMHost in $ClHost)
# Set uplinks for the vSwitch
Get-VMHost $VMHost | Get-VirtualSwitch -Name $VSSName | Set-VirtualSwitch -Nic $ActUplink,$StdByUplink -Confirm:$false

# Set active and standby uplinks
Get-VirtualSwitch -VMHost $VMHost -name $VSSName | Get-VirtualPortGroup | where {$_.Name -like "$PortGroupName"} | Get-NicTeamingPolicy | Set-NicTeamingPolicy -MakeNicActive $ActUplink -MakeNicStandby $StdByUplink -LoadBalancingPolicy $LBPol

# Update log file
Add-Content $Logfile ((get-date -Format "dd/MM/yy HH:mm")+","+$VMHost.Name+",Success")


PowerCLI – Update vSwitch with additional uplinks, LB Policy and active/standby

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February 11th, 2014 by NerdBlurt

Continuing on with our Six Question Series, today we are going to look at the networking world and Cisco’s community  program the Cisco Champions.

We sent our questions over to Amy Lewis Influence Marketing for Data Center Virtualization at Cisco Systems

Here are my six questions, very simple and straight forward, but can give someone a starting point to becoming a Cisco Champion

cisco_champions BADGE_200x200


Six Questions

Amy Lewis’s response below

1. Why did Cisco choose to start the program?
To formalize and extend our relationship with the technical community.
2. What is the purpose behind the Cisco Champion program?
 Education and amplification. Our goal with the Cisco Champions is to connect interested technologists with experts and information. We want to hear candid feedback and amplify their voices.
3. What makes this program special?
Cisco Champions is special because of the variety of opportunities we are building–blogger briefings, meetups, podcast, videos, etc. We are learning as we go, from each other. I think that give and take makes the program pretty special.
4. What is the process for becoming an Cisco Champion?
For Cisco Champions for Data Center, we run a nomination process in October–you can nominate yourself or be nominated. For the broader corporate program, it’s a rolling admission cycle while we build the program. They contact the potential Cisco Champion and evaluate their body of work and footprint in the community.
5. What are some of the benefits?
The benefits are great access to Cisco experts and information, and more of a voice in the community on hot topics of interest. And of course shirts.
6. What tips would you give to someone thinking of becoming Champion?
Participate, be interested, and raise your hand. Our job is to make heroes of the brave, be brave!
You can find out more on the Cisco Champions
Nerd’s Blurt
This is a good opportunity for those involved in the Cisco Community to gain valuable insights and exposure.

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January 28th, 2014 by NerdBlurt

I have been debating upgrading the physical equipment in my home lab for some time now. Checking out different builds from Chris Wahls Lab Resource section, Chris has a great compilation of posts to get you started from various community members.

Your number one question should be what is the need for my lab?

What am I going to need for my lab today? But what about 3 months down the road? 6mths? 1yr? Is the investment I make going to be able to do what I want it to do now and into the future so I can get the most out of my investment?

This is the very question that has me stumbling personally. My use case is different in that i need different configurations at different times. I would love to have a house filled with various equipment. But the reality is having equipment, and that equipment gets expensive to not only purchase but to run. Then there is the number one factor in all home lab set-ups, the #WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) this is huge if you don’t have a lot of space in your home.

In my current home I am fortunate to have the space to have a 3/4 tall rack which I can put equipment in and I have a separate office which closes off from the house. But it is loud with my current systems running. 78db with servers going and they are about 5ft from my desk. With all equipment off I am at 32-45db. Big difference, especially as I get set to record some videos, i want it as quit as possible.

Things to consider

Noise level – This is a big factor in some areas, we don’t want our homes sounding like a data center.

Cost – Let’s be honest we want to do this for as reasonable price point as possible, set an amount and go for it

Purpose – This is what will dictate most of the above, what is the reasoning behind building a lab environment

Space- How much space do you have to place your equipment

Current configuration

Currently I have

  • 2 ibm eseries server – firewall and other has vSphere 3.5
  • dell 745n with Freenas installed on it
  • Dell power edge with vSphere 4.1
  • Lenovo box with vSphere 5.5
  • Dell optiplex with vSphere 5.1
  • HP Desktop – 3 HD for some shared file storage and windows operating system
  • Cisco 2950 24 port switch
  • Macbook Air is my primary machine with VMware Fusion installed

Now non of my servers have more then 4GB of memory. This is one of my biggest needs is more RAM, Storage space is ok for now.

My use case

Currently my environment is ‘ok’, it allows for me to experiment on a small scale but to fully test and implement things I need a bigger environment.

I do testing of products and reviews and need a flexible solution that can scale up or down as the need arises.

My options

Cloud- AWS, vCHS, BareMetal, Windows Azure, Google

New hardware- I could spec out what it would cost for me to build an ultra quiet lab that has plenty of RAM, Storage with some networking.


Biggest challenge right now is the cost for the above.

What I am doing now

Currently I am experimenting with baremetalcloud. This allows for me to spin up servers on the fly and only have to pay for it when i use it. This is huge in cost/space/noise reduction in my home office.

But there are some caveats to using the cloud the initial configuration of system has to be well planned because time is literally money. If I can get a test environment up and running in few hours the cost on Bare Metal Cloud could be $10. I then save that configuration or image for later testing purposes (which will save time and then even more money) for when I need it.

In the cloud approach planning is key as you want to maximize the time you have a server running. One of the down sides I noticed is things aren’t spun up in seconds, but with planning it can be cost effective.

Example on possible saving- **** please note this is only an example real numbers varies on exact equipment and run time****

I need a server with at least 40gb of RAM storage isn’t involved but say 50GB of storage space – I can do a search for those requirements and for aprx. $.67 hr I could rent the server for 30 hrs and only spend around $21. Now if I was to buy that exact system I’m spending thousands, not to mention i have to pay for the power and cooling of the equipment.

But again, I can not stress enough of needing to plan out your scenario and configuration ahead of time when using any cloud on the go model.

Nerd’s Blurt

My goal is to do some more posts specifically on using baremetalcloud, and over all experience. Ido continue to research various lab set-ups and possibilities for what I need a lab environment for.  I like the model from them so far as I have flexibility with various servers and configurations and when I need it and for how long I need it.

What are your thoughts or advice on labs and or using cloud models?

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November 16th, 2013 by NerdBlurt

There is a Startup incubator located in Hopkinton, MA called TechSandbox.  They offer many events geared to helping business grow.  I would like to share one of these events with you.



TechSandBox Event in Hopkinton, MA


Mobile SIG: Course on Wireframe and Design Sketching

When: Mon, November 18, 5:30pm – 8:00pm

Where: TechSandBox, 105B South Street, Hopkinton, MA

Description: OUR FIRST COURSE and it’s offered by Fresh Tilled Soil’s Alec Harrison.

In this class, you’ll learn about:

Why sketches and wireframes are essential for good UX What to avoid when constructing wireframes

How to understand the power of existing UX patterns and how to apply them to your small screen wireframes

What sketching/wireframe tool is best for your needs and preferences

This is a hands-on workshop so please be ready to roll-up your sleeves and draw!

Who will find this class useful?

Anyone new to the process of sketching & wireframes Those looking to improve their current sketching & wireframing process

Tweet your QUESTIONS in advance to @TechSandBox1 using the hashtag #UX.

Get ready for an awesome Q&A session after Class!

Register at :

Cost: $29 in advance and $40 at the door. Members’ discount $5.

Further Details:

Nerd’s Blurt

This looks like a great event and if I can clear my schedule I might be attending this. As someone who is into programming, understanding the fundamentals is huge. If you ever wanted more understanding on the importance of the sketch and wire frame process this is a must attend event.

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