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The Gamification of VMware Hands-on Labs – Meet Odyssey

Sometimes digging in and learning about all the newest things in the VMware arsenal can feel tedious and daunting. VMware apparently heard our cries, and introduced VMware Odyssey at VMworld 2019. Odyssey aims to be a brand-new approach to evaluating and learning the VMware catalog.

How is it a brand-new approach, you ask? Simply, they’ve added gamification elements to the VMware Hands-on Labs that we know and love.

VMware Odyssey is a series of 15-minute tasks that challenge your knowledge and expertise across the entire VMware portfolio. VMware developed a game engine that will automatically check that a Hands-on Lab task was completed correctly, and it gives you instant feedback. There’s even a leaderboard to see how you stack up to others that have taken the Odyssey-enabled Hands-on Labs. Check out this video to learn more:

Not bad, eh? Expect to see more from the VMware Odyssey team in the future.…

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VMware Ports and Protocols Tool

If you’re tired of pouring through VMware documentation to find specific port requirements for their software like I am, this post is going to be a god-send for you. With VMware announcing new features, products and services regularly, it can be hard to keep up with what software and version have specific requirements that you need to deploy to make everything work well. VMware offers a little-advertised tool to help you discover, digest and retain all of the ports and protocol information. I don’t think it’s been around long, since I just discovered it this year. If you haven’t seen it…

Allow me to introduce the VMware Ports and Protocols website. The site is mobile friendly, and pretty intuitive.

This tool allows you to select specific software suites, and displays the required ports and protocols for you to make it easy for you to understand your networking requirements before you deploy anything at all. There are even export options. You can download Excel or CSV formatted files, and print the results. Here’s an example of the output:

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How to Change the IP Address of an ESXi Host via ESX CLI

I recently had a colleague reach out with a need to change the IP address of an ESXi host without access to the GUI. I thought it might be useful to outline the steps here, in case it’s helpful for someone else.

Changing the IP address of a host is actually pretty straight forward with ESX CLI. Before you get started, list all of the VMkernel NICs using this command:

esxcli network ip interface ipv4 get

That will return a list of all of the VMkernel interfaces and their details. Now you can change the IP address of the VMKernel adapter:

esxcli network ip interface ipv4 set -i vmkX -I <IP_ADDRESS> -N <SUBNET_MASK> -t static

And that’s it, you’re all done. You’ll lose connection to the host and need to SSH back in, but the host will have the new IP address.…

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VMware Mangle – Chaos Engineering Made Easy

In any enterprise organization there’s an immediate need to test and validate fault-tolerance and recoverability. If you have a VMware virtual environment, testing just got a lot easier. Meet VMware Mangle.Mangle enables folks like us to run chaos engineering experiments against applications and infrastructure components, and allows us to quickly assess resiliency and fault tolerance. It was designed to introduce faults with minimal pre-configuration and can support any infrastructure that you might have including K8S, Docker, vCenter or any Remote Machine with SSH enabled. Included in Mangle is a pretty powerful plugin model that allows the engineer to define a custom fault of their choice based on a template and run it against the environment without building code from scratch.

For those of us that want a quick and easy way to install Mangle just about anywhere, grab the container images.

If you’re not that fancy yet, or prefer to deploy a virtual appliance on vSphere that is pre-packaged with Mangle, you can grab the .ova files.

In either case, refer to the VMware Mangle website for detailed instructions on deployment and configuration.…

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How to Install, Update, and Remove the Nimble Connection Manager on ESXi

There are a few ways to install Nimble Connection Manager (NCM) on your ESXi hosts. The easiest way is to add the appropriate download source to VMware Update Manager (VUM) in your vCenter, then create and attach a baseline for Nimble Connection Manager to each of your ESXi hosts attached to the HPE Nimble array. Doing so will ensure that Nimble Connection Manager is installed or updated during your normal VMware Update Manager update cycle which will keep Nimble Connection Manager updated across your infrastructure. For those that need them, here are the source URLs:

Nimble Connection Manager Download Sources for VMware Update Manager
ESX VersionDownload Source
ESXi 5.xhttps://update.nimblestorage.com/esx5/ncm/index.xml
ESXi 6.0https://update.nimblestorage.com/esx6/ncm/index.xml
ESXi 6.5https://update.nimblestorage.com/esx6.5/ncm/index.xml

Now that you have the download sources, what do you do with them? For starters, add them to VMware Update Manager (VUM). For detailed instructions on how to do that, check out my blog post on the subject, or VMware Docs.

Another option is to install Nimble Connection Manager directly to the host. There are a few prerequisites for this method:

  1. Enable SSH on the host.
    1. Select the host, click Manage, and keep Settings selected.
    2. Click Security Profile.
    3. In the

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How to Cleanly Uninstall the Nimble Connection Manager Before an ESXi Upgrade

If you’re using HPE Nimble storage arrays to back your VMware environment, there’s something that you should know. Lets start from the top. As of this writing, the Nimble Connection Manager (NCM) for ESXi comes in three different flavors. There’s a version available for use with ESXi 5.X, one available for use with ESXi 6.0, and one available for use with ESXi 6.5. Add the appropriate download source to VMware Update Manager (VUM), then create and attach a baseline for Nimble Connection Manager to your hosts. Doing so will ensure that Nimble Connection Manager is installed or updated during your normal VMware Update Manager update cycle which will keep Nimble Connection Manager updated across your infrastructure. For those that need them, here are the source URLs:

Nimble Connection Manager Download Sources for VMware Update Manager
ESX VersionDownload Source
ESXi 5.xhttps://update.nimblestorage.com/esx5/ncm/index.xml
ESXi 6.0https://update.nimblestorage.com/esx6/ncm/index.xml
ESXi 6.5https://update.nimblestorage.com/esx6.5/ncm/index.xml

I recently upgraded my entire VMware environment from vSphere 5.5 to 6.5. Because I had Nimble Connection Manager installed on the hosts, and the version installed was compatible with ESXi 5.X, I had to do a few things before I could upgrade the hosts. If you leave the older version of Nimble

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How to Cleanly Uninstall Legacy NSX and Trend Micro from ESXi

So I recently migrated from a vSphere 5.5 environment to 6.5 using the migration utility. Overall, I had a great experience with a few exceptions, both of which were my fault. We’ll cover one of them in this post.

We were running Trend Micro Deep Security, which means we had NSX deployed in support of that product throughout our environment. My thinking, incorrectly, was that after the vCenter upgrade, I could upgrade the existing NSX components of the environment and I would be off to the races!

That was a mistake, and I thought it might be worth it for me to share what I saw unfolding, and how I resolved the issues. So here goes…

After the vCenter upgrade was successful, I noticed that I no longer had an NSX manager registered, which was odd. I was seeing issues with DRS, and the only way to get around the virtual machines hanging and eventually erroring out during DRS triggered vMotions was to manually migrate the virtual machines to other hosts and place the affected host in Maintenance Mode while I took steps to remove all things NSX, Guest Introspection and Trend Micro.

Here’s a step-by-step walkthrough of how I …

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Homelab Considerations: Storage Simulators for Your Homelab

Part 1: Homelab Considerations: Software Licensing for Your Homelab
Part 2: Homelab Considerations: Storage Simulators for Your Homelab

In Part 2 of the Homelab Considerations series, we’ll be talking about storage simulators. Storage simulators will help you familiarize yourself with various enterprise storage offerings that you would typically see attached to a vSphere environment. We’re going to cover each Virtual Storage Appliance (VSA) I’ve been able to find, where and how to download those VSAs, and how to set them up in an environment.

In any virtual environment, you need a few key things:

  • Servers, or compute
  • Networking, or routers and switching
  • Storage, or a centralized box of hard disks to store all of the infrastructure on

If you’re testing an application, OS or the network infrastructure in your environment, you’re probably fine putting the infrastructure on local storage if you have a decently sized hard drive and can thin provision the disk. If you’re in the market to learn how enterprise data centers and cloud technologies work, especially with VMware vSphere, you will need dedicated shared storage for your homelab infrastructure in order to use most of those enterprise features. Not all of us can build out a homelab …

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Homelab Considerations: Software Licensing for Your Homelab

Part 1: Homelab Considerations: Software Licensing for Your Homelab
Part 2: Homelab Considerations: Storage Simulators for Your Homelab

So I’ve been digging into how to license enterprise software for my homelab, and I thought I’d share some of what I’ve found. Some people choose to go the route of getting below-board licensing for enterprise software, but I’m not one of those people. For those of us who want a legitimate software footprint on their network, this post is for you. We are not going to cover how to build your homelab, or what storage you should use. We are going to cover how to license your  homelab at little or no cost to you, including your choices for legally licensing products from VMware, Microsoft, Veeam and more.

VMware Licensing

Let’s start the conversation by talking about VMware, since virtualization is the main focus of this blog. While VMware does offer their ESXi hypervisor for free, that doesn’t include some of the enterprise features like access to APIs, and the rest of the vSphere suite. In terms of licensing, the cheapest way to get a production copy of VMware for an enterprise is vSphere Essentials, which costs $560 at the …

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vSphere 5.5 and vSAN 5.5 End of General Support Reminder

I thought I’d take a moment to remind everyone that the End of General Support (EOGS) for vSphere 5.5 and vSAN 5.5 is September 19, 2018.

VMware recommends that anyone still running those versions of the software upgrade to vSphere 6.5 or vSphere 6.7 as soon as possible to maintain your full level of Support and Subscription Services. Upgrading to vSphere 6.5 or 6.7 will put you in a good spot, and give you all of the latest capabilities of vSphere and vSAN. VMware has announced that vSphere 6.5 and vSphere 6.7 general support has been extended to five years from it’s release date, which will end on November 15, 2021.

Note: vCloud Suite 5 and vSphere with Operations Management (vSOM) customers running vSphere 5.5 are also recommended to upgrade to vSphere 6.5 or vSphere 6.7.

Visit the VMware vSphere Upgrade Center for more information on the benefits of upgrading and how to upgrade from vSphere 5.5 to vSphere 6.5 or vSphere 6.7. If you’re looking for detailed technical guidance, visit vSphere Central and the vSphere 6.5 Topology and Upgrade Planning Tool.

If you need a little bit of help upgrading to a newer version of vSphere, VMware …

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VMware Product Walkthroughs Tool

The VMware product line can be a little overwhelming. With VMware announcing new features, products and services regularly, it can be hard to keep up. That said, VMware offers a tool to help you digest and retain all of that information, and they’ve been keeping it up to date. It’s been around for a while now, since about 2014 I think, but if you haven’t seen it…

Allow me to introduce the VMware Product Walkthrough website. The site is mobile friendly, and pretty intuitive.

This tool provides technical overviews and step-by-step guides for installing, configuring and managing VMware products and services. Every single walkthrough includes screenshots and detailed explainations.

You can also use the site as a self-paced demo of VMware products and features. Get familiar with the basic features of VMware products before you dive into the VMware Hands-on Labs for those products.…

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vSphere Deployment: Configuring an HA Cluster in vCenter 6.5

vSphere Deployment is a 6 part series that will walk you through deploying and configuring the components of vSphere 6.5.

Part 1: vSphere Deployment: Deploying ESXi 6.5 to a Host
Part 2: vSphere Deployment: Deploying the vCenter Server Appliance 6.5
Part 3: vSphere Deployment: Configuring an HA Cluster in vCenter 6.5
Part 4: vSphere Deployment: Configuring Traditional Storage in vCenter 6.5
Part 5: vSphere Deployment: Configuring a Datastore Cluster in vCenter 6.5
Part 6: vSphere Deployment: Configuring vSphere Update Manager (VUM) in vCenter 6.5

vSphere HA clusters allow ESXi hosts to work together as a group and provide performance assurance and higher levels of availability for hosted virtual machines. Before we get into building vSphere HA clusters, let’s go over how vSphere HA works. vSphere HA provides high availability for virtual machines by pooling the virtual machines and the hosts they reside on into a cluster of ESXi hosts. Hosts in the cluster are actively monitored through a network and datastore heartbeating and if a failure occurs, the virtual machines on failed hosts are automatically restarted on alternate hosts.

Note the distinction between vSphere HA (High Availability) and vSphere FT (Fault Tolerance). vSphere FT allows for no service interruption, …

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vSphere Deployment: Deploying the vCenter Server Appliance 6.5

vSphere Deployment is a 6 part series that will walk you through deploying and configuring the components of vSphere 6.5.

Part 1: vSphere Deployment: Deploying ESXi 6.5 to a Host
Part 2: vSphere Deployment: Deploying the vCenter Server Appliance 6.5
Part 3: vSphere Deployment: Configuring an HA Cluster in vCenter 6.5
Part 4: vSphere Deployment: Configuring Traditional Storage in vCenter 6.5
Part 5: vSphere Deployment: Configuring a Datastore Cluster in vCenter 6.5
Part 6: vSphere Deployment: Configuring vSphere Update Manager (VUM) in vCenter 6.5

For those unfamiliar, VMware vCenter is a management suite for your VMware vSphere environment. It allows you to manage your VMware infrastructure from a single pane of glass. With vCenter 6.5 you can choose one of two ways to deploy the software:

  • Install the vCenter software on a Windows server (physical or virtual)
  • Deploy the vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA)

Though VMware still allows you to deploy vCenter on a Windows server, we’re not going to cover that here. Not only is that installation fairly straight-forward being that it’s a Windows application, but 6.5 is the last version of vCenter that VMware will make available for Windows. Going forward you will have to deploy vCenter as a …

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vSphere Deployment: Deploying ESXi 6.5 to a Host

vSphere Deployment is a 6 part series that will walk you through deploying and configuring the components of vSphere 6.5.

Part 1: vSphere Deployment: Deploying ESXi 6.5 to a Host
Part 2: vSphere Deployment: Deploying the vCenter Server Appliance 6.5
Part 3: vSphere Deployment: Configuring an HA Cluster in vCenter 6.5
Part 4: vSphere Deployment: Configuring Traditional Storage in vCenter 6.5
Part 5: vSphere Deployment: Configuring a Datastore Cluster in vCenter 6.5
Part 6: vSphere Deployment: Configuring vSphere Update Manager (VUM) in vCenter 6.5

For those unfamiliar, VMware ESXi is VMwares purpose-built, bare metal hypervisor that installs directly onto a physical server.

There are a few requirements when deploying ESXi 6.5:

  1. You’ll need a host compatible with vSphere 6.5 (compatibility guide available here).
  2. You’ll need the ESXi 6.5 ISO image (available here). I also recommend that you check out the vendor-specific (Dell EMC, HPE) ESXi builds if you want to avoid installing drivers, etc.
  3. You’ll want to keep the vSphere Installation and Setup – VMware vSphere 6.5 documentation handy.
  4. Ensure that all shared storage is disconnected from the host when installing ESXi.

Step 1: Deploy ESXi to a Physical Machine

Once you have …

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VMware Configuration Maximums Tool

It’s finally happened! VMware has just made our lives a lot easier. If you manage a VMware environment, you have to know the configuration maximums for each VMware product and version in your environment. If you’re taking a VMware certification exam, you have to know the configuration maximums for each product and version in the blueprint for the exam you want to take.

Now, all of that information is readily available on the web, eliminating the need to search for the documentation you need and write everything out in your own spreadsheets. Check out the new VMware Configuration Maximum Tool here: https://configmax.vmware.com/

As of this writing, this tool contains the configuration maximums for vSphere 6.0, 6.5, and 6.5 Update 1. I’m sure more versions, and more products will be added to the tool in the future, so bookmark it!

This handy tool allows you to select your vSphere version, and then choose to display maximums only for the technology you choose. You can even compare the configuration maximums across different versions, which is really useful if you want to see what improvements and enhancements have been made that may lead to a small rearchitecture effort in your environment, or plan …

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