Archive for December, 2008

What I’m reading

December 31st, 2008

What I’m reading:

VMware Infrastructure 3:  Advanced Technical Design Guide and Advanced Operations Guide by Scott Herold, Ron Oglesby (formerly of GlassHouse, now with Dell, and bench presser of Lord knows how many pounds), and Mike Laverick. ISBN:  978-0971151086.

Ok, the truth is I’ve had the pre-release Author’s Edition of this book since February of 2008 and I had read a few chapters, but I haven’t read the final copy cover to cover like a book of this calibre warrants.  I picked up the final copy in September 2008 just before VMworld 2008.  If the author names sound familiar to you, well, they should.  Oglesby and Herold wrote the earlier version of this book a few years ago and it was dynamite!  Laverick joins the duo as a VMware Infrastructure expert, VMware instructor, proprietor of RTFM Eduction, plus extensive Citrix experience (the man has paid his dues).  Lately, Laverick has been on a VMware Site Recovery Manager kick.  If you’re getting into SRM, definitely check out Mike’s site where you’ll find valuable information plus the first and only book I’m aware of dedicated to SRM.

Expectations:  Advanced concepts.  Tips and tricks I won’t find in VMware documentation.  Real world scenarios from the datacenter and classroom.  At just over 800 pages, I would have been able to devour this in a week or less in my younger days.  With a busy family and work life, I expect I’ll be chipping away at this book for a good month or more.  But it’s not a race.  What’s important is understanding and retention of the concepts.  I’m thinking about the VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX) certification soon and hopefully this book will help in those studies.

What I’m watching:

VMware ESX Server training by Trainsignal.  Iman Jalali (Director of Sales and Support, Trainsignal) contacted me via Twitter and asked if I’d like to review a copy of Trainsignal’s latest VMware ESX video training.  Are you kidding me?  Just about anything VMware related I can get my hands on is a good thing.  Jalali did not ask for a blog review or even a mention, however, I appreciate his generosity as well as the generosity of Scott Skinger (Founder/President of Trainsignal) who comped me Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 video training back in 2007.

David Davis (from this and this, among other things) is the instructor of this 18+ hour 2-DVD series.  I’ve known (of) David for a few years from my participation at the Petri IT Knowledgebase.  David has a lot of positive energy and his certifications include CCIE (I’m not worthy sharing the same Oxygen as he) and VCP.  I very much look forward to watching this series.  One thing though guys (and this goes out to all the VMware book authors too):  With the virtualization landscape evolving so quickly, the versions and configuration maximums being rasied by VMware almost quarterly, I wish you the best of luck keeping your material current!  That has to be a big challenge and somewhat of a frustration at the same time.

It is now time for my Pre-New-Years cheesecake.  As if I needed an excuse for cheesecake.

Oh yeah, Happy New Year!

Jas

Upgraded to WordPress 2.7

December 28th, 2008

Blog maintenance tonight:

  • Upgraded the Pixeled theme from version 1.1 to version 1.5.
    • This theme appears to be compatible with WordPress 2.7.
    • Had to re-hack a few of the theme files for blog customizations I made.
    • No known cool improvements other than bug fixes.
  • Major WordPress upgrade from 2.6.5 to 2.7.
    • Followed this guide. Fairly straight forward. Maybe a bit advanced for the less technically inclined. Theme/plugin compatibility is the big deal here.
    • Some plugins listed on the compatible list. Some were not listed at all. Proceeded with upgrade anyway.
    • Before upgrading, backed up database and entire blog directory. Disabled plugins (re-enabling plugins retains plugin settings thank God).
    • Widgets seem to be unaffected.
    • After all was said and done, one plugin isn’t working: WP Super Cache. The plugin configuration page is blank and I don’t see any cache directory on the server nor do I see a “delete cache” link in the admin console. I went ahead and disabled this plugin until this can be worked out. The blog will still run without it, however, each page will now be dynamically rendered by the PHP engine thus chewing up quite a bit more CPU cycles on the web server. I host my own blog so there is no risk of being evicted by a web host for utilizing too much CPU which has happened to the more popular bloggers like Scott Lowe at VMworld 2008 and Rich Brambley. Honorable mention, Mike Laverick of RTFM Eduction was also shut down due excess bandwidth utilization. These web hosts obviously don’t know who they are messing with ;)
    • Initial observations:
      • I knew it was a major upgrade and unfortunately for the readers, most of the cosmetic improvements happen behind the scenes in the admin console which the reader doesn’t see.
      • Ok, the new console is refreshing and cool (literally cool with a cool-like blue theme – I’m getting the chills as I write this…)
      • Everything is moved around completely. It’s the Windows 3.1 Program Manager to Windows 95 interface migration all over again. However, the concepts and building blocks of WordPress don’t really change, so seasoned WordPress veterans should be able to adapt quickly just as experienced Windows administrators did in 1995.
      • If the redesigned UI doesn’t entice you, the promised future ease of WordPress upgrades should be enough to justify the jump to version 2.7.
      • I hope the WYSIWYG editor is fixed and doesn’t randomly garf bulleted lists and font formatting like the 2.6.x versions did. I often had to use the HTML tab to manually fix things in source view using my old school HTML tag skills.
      • The WYSIWYG editor seems a tad bit more sluggish but in fairness that is probably because I’m on my slower computer right now. I write most of my blog posts on my faster computer.
      • The Dashboard now has something called “QuickPress” which reminds me a bit of Twitter micro-blogging with tag functionality. It’s basically a fast track method to post quickly from the Dashboard view without the bells and whistles that the WYSIWYG editor provides.
      • There’s a Word Count display underneath the WYSIWYG editor. For those who are paid to blog, this should come in handy. I wish there was also a Quality Count. I could use that to help me with some of my posts.

That’s all for now. I waited for the suckers… ahem… the early adopters… to upgrade to 2.7 first so I could watch for fallout. Not much fallout to speak of really. 2.7 went through many beta and release candidate revisions. It was cooked pretty good and the quality shows. Just make sure you back up your database and content directories before the upgrade so you have a good recovery point. I’m off to the couch to watch a few more of my Twilight Zone Xmas DVDs (seasons 1 through 3). Tomorrow morning I go out to breakfast with friends and then to the Metrodome to watch the clueless Minnesota Vikings lose to the New York Giants.

Update: Flickr Manager 2.1 doesn’t work after the upgrade to WordPress 2.7. When I click on an image to insert, the Flickr Manager hourglass just spins its wheels and never returns to the blog post inserting the image. I’ve restarted IIS services a few times to no avail. For my blog entries that have inline images, this really sucks because now inserting images is a much more manual process where I have to go out to Flickr, find the picture within the correct set, click on it, view all sizes, then copy the image URL location.

Update: The Flickr Manager 2.1 issue has been resolved.  I found this gem on the support forums.  Apparently the author fixed the issue and slipped it back into a re-release of version 2.1 (download the updated 2.1 version here) without telling people who downloaded the original broked version of 2.1 before January 2009.  My personal and professional opinion is the version should have been incremented from 2.1 to 2.2 but nonetheless I’m happy now.

Update:  Fixed WP Super Cache not caching and blank configuration page issues:

  • The enabling of the WP Super Cache plugin was not creating the wp-content\advanced-cached.php and wp-cache-config.php files like it was supposed to.  This FAQ lead me to the manual creation (copy) of these files which fixed the blank configuration page problem.
  • Once the config page was working I thought all was well, but it wasn’t.  The plugin wasn’t caching.  I was able to witness this by no cache files being created in the wp-content\cache\ directory.  Upon further examination, a default setting for the plugin is to reject caching of pages with the string index.php in the URI.  This is ridiculous because every blog page served up by WordPress on the web server has the string index.php in it!  This essentially told the plugin not to cache any of the blog posts.  Simply removing index.php and saving the configuration jump started the whole thing and now everything is working correctly.

1-7-2009 11-21-38 PM

Where to get timely VMware virtualization information

December 25th, 2008

Happy Holidays!  I thought tonight was the night I was going to post some “Citrix XenApp virtualized on VMware ESX” that many have been asking me for behind the scenes, but alas it’s 10:30pm and I just don’t have the energy for such a post that will require considerable effort to put together.  I’ve accumulated some information here and there for various people, but it’s time to formally consolidate the scattered pieces of information into one decent post that I can fine tune as needed going forward.  Before you start licking your chops in anticipation of a rocket science blog post on virtualizing Citrix, please don’t.  What I promise is the details and discoveries behind one person’s virtualized Citrix environment.  With VI3, virtualizing Citrix is fairly straightforward but extra special attention must be paid in determining virtualization candidacy.

Now I wouldn’t want anyone to walk away empty handed from my blog on Christmas so I leave you with this:  A no-frills post revealing the source of where I get 90-95% of my daily virtualization information – RSS feeds of various blogs and websites.  This file (right click, save as – it’s XML) contains an export of all of my RSS subscriptions.  Import it into your favorite RSS reader.  Set your RSS subscription refresh interval to 15 minutes.  Stay informed with nearly up to the minute and late breaking VMware virtualization news.  With new blogs and sites popping up weekly, for sure this list is nowhere near what I would call complete.  If you have any suggestions or if you see a great blog or site that I am missing, by all means, let me know in the comment section below.  I’m the type of guy that can never get enough VMware virtualization information.

Disclaimer:  My RSS subscription list contains a few subscriptions to non-virtualization related feeds which you may want to remove.

Update:  I’ve added two more great blogs to the RSS feeds:  Gabe’s Virtual World (Gabrie van Zanten) and Jase’s Place (Jason McCarty).

Free tool released as promised: Veeam Monitor

December 22nd, 2008

Veeam has come through with their greatly anticipated free tool that had been receiving festive holiday hype leading up to this morning’s release.  The download queues are jammed at the moment but the tool can be grabbed from this link

I’m preoccupied with babysitting (for the next two weeks actually) and unfortunately I don’t have the resources to go into details about this release.  For that, I’d like to refer you to a few blogs that have alread done a good job of this, in chronological order of how they showed up in my RSS reader:  Rynardt Spies, Mike Laverick, David Marshall, Scott Lowe, and Rich Brambley

Enjoy this present and be sure to send a warm “Thank You” to the people at Veeam such as Doug Hazelman, Carrie Reber, and the rest of the talented staff.

PS.  I had announced this tool at the Minneapolis VMUG last Friday.  Up until this point, I had always been pronouncing the company name as VEEM (with a long E).  Someone at the VMUG corrected me saying that the company name is pronounced “VEE’-am” (like two words with the stress on the long E and a short A afterwards).

Update:

12-22-2008 10-09-41 AM

Well how do you like that?  Veeam pronunciation restored once again to the previous version.  That’s the last time I listen to someone at a VMUG.  Nothing exciting happens at VMUGs anyway.  ;)

Next generation of VMware Virtual Infrastructure named VMware vSphere

December 19th, 2008

Today at the Minneapolis VMware User Group (VMUG) meeting, VMware employees disclosed to a group of 150+ attendees the new name for the next generation of Virtual Infrastructure many have been referring to as VI4 or VI.next.  The new name is VMware vSphere.

I value and respect the various relationships I have with VMware and thus before posting this news, I checked with authoritative sources inside VMware.  VMware Marketing has endorsed the release of this information to the public.

VMware also released a few new configuration maximum details on vSphere but for now I am keeping that information to myself.  Other audience members in attendance may decide to break this news.

Further unwrapping of the free tool from Veeam

December 18th, 2008

Rich Brambley of VM /ETC allowed me to take a look at the Veeam present located under his tree.  Due to our carelessness, more wrapping paper seems to have been worn away!

Can anyone guess what this tool might be?  I’ve got a hunch and my guess can be found in the form of a tag below this blog entry.

Be sure to register for free copy of this tool being made available by Veeam on December 22nd!

Happy Holidays!

12-18-2008 1-37-13 PM

Introducing: IT Knowledge Exchange/TechTarget

December 18th, 2008

Have you seen TechTarget’s IT Knowledge Exchange? If you are an IT staff member in search of answers or excellent technical blogs, ITKE is one site you’ll want to bookmark. Their award winning editorial staff include virtualization bloggers such as Eric Siebert, David Davis, prolific VirtualCenter plugin writer Andrew Kutz, Rick Vanover, Edward Haletky, and many more.

Search or browse by hundreds of tags covering hot IT topics such as Database, Exchange, Lotus Domino, Microsoft Windows, Security, Virtualization, etc.

Their value proposition is simple: provide IT professionals and executives with the information they need to perform their jobs—from developing strategy, to making cost-effective IT purchase decisions and managing their organizations’ IT projects.

One month ago, brianmadden.com was purchased by TechTarget. I think this addition will be a nice shot in the arm for ITKE. In one transaction they integrate an established rich Citrix/Terminal Services/Virtualization knowledgebase and talented staff of bloggers that it can in turn use to help its readers and advertising clientele.

TechTarget has over 600 employees, was founded in 1999, and went public in May 2007 via a $100M IPO.

12-18-2008 8-27-33 AM