Posts Tagged ‘VMware’


February 25th, 2012

I receive a lot of communication from recruiters, some of which I’m allowed to share, so I’ve decided to try something.  On the Jobs page, I’ll pass along virtualization and cloud centric opportunities – mostly US based but in some cases throughout the globe.  Only recruiter requests will be posted.  I won’t syndicate content easily found on the various job boards.  If you’re currently on the bench or looking for a new challenge, you may find it here.  Don’t tell them Jason sent you.  I receive no financial gain or benefit otherwise but I thought I could do something with these opportunities other than deleting them.  Best of luck in your search.

In case you missed the link, the Jobs page.

Configuring Zimbra Mobile

February 19th, 2012

Shortly before VMware Partner Exchange, Microsoft Certificate Services in my long-in-the-tooth lab domain died and unfortunately took a handful of integrated services with it.  One of those dependent services was Microsoft Exchange 2010.  After attempts to repair and later rebuild and restore the Microsoft CA failed, I decided the time had finally come to ditch the boche.mcse Windows Active Directory domain which I originally built when Windows 2000 and Active Directory first launched.  There were a number of other lingering issues with the domain which I haven’t been able to repair and the time investment and frustration really wasn’t worth it.  I had been waiting for a catalyst in addition to a block of weekend time and today was the day.

I had been hosting Microsoft Exchange Server since version 5.5 and although I had accumulated quite a bit of experience over the years in building, migrating, and maintaining a small Exchange environment, the truth is Exchange has gotten way too complex and bloated for me to keep up with.  Being a VMware guy, I’ve had the itch to give Zimbra a try since the acquisition.  It seemed like a win-win solution: Ditch the complexities of Exchange and replace with a VMware messaging solution.  So after building the new domain this afternoon Exchange 2010 was retired and Zimbra was born.

Zimbra is incredibly easy to set up, especially when deploying the appliance version in .OVF format hosted on vSphere 5.  I was up and running with incoming and outgoing email in very little time.  One area I was concerned with when replacing Exchange with Zimbra was the integration and end user experience.  Zimbra ships with an HTML Outlook Web Access like interface which can be used for processing mail on a regular basis.  Would I lose the ability to use Outlook as a mail client or mobile device compatibility?  The answer was no on both accounts.  In addition to the web interface, I can continue to use Outlook 2010 connected to the Zimbra server via IMAP.  This is just about as easy to set up as attaching Outlook to a native Exchange environment.  Outlook detects the mail services provided by Zimbra and negotiates an IMAP configuration.  Done.

Configuring Zimbra Mobile wasn’t as straight forward but I was able to piece together the steps.  Zimbra’s documentation is decent but in some areas it feels explicitly vague, lacking step by step configuration detail.  With Outlook and the web client functioning well, the last step was to integrate Zimbra with my mobile devices: the iPhone and iPad.  These are the steps I followed:

Log into the Zimbra Collaboration Suite Appliance web console (https://<f.q.d.n.>:5480/).  On the Zimbra Administration tab, change the pull down box from All addresses or Accounts to Profiles.

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In a default out-of-box deployment, there should be just one profile named ‘default’.  Modify that profile by enabling Mobile Sync on the Zimbra Mobile tab.  Save the changes to the profile.

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Now that we have Mobile Sync enabled in a profile, we can apply that profile to each Zimbra user who needs messaging access from their mobile handheld.  Going back to the Dashboard tab, change the pull down box from Profiles to Accounts.  Modify the account in which you’d like to grant Zimbra Mobile access.  On the General Information tab for the user account, uncheck the box labeled ‘auto‘ and then begin typing the first few letters of the profile name of ‘default‘ in the Profile box.  After the first few letters of the profile are typed, the default profile name will appear and that can be selected with the mouse.  Now save the changes.

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Now it’s time to configure the iPad and iPhone to connect to Zimbra Mobile.  The first step is to create a new mail account.  The type will be Exchange.

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I found configuring the account with Zimbra Mobile easier than with Exchange 2010.  Provide the following values:

2. Email – this should match the email address tied to the account in Zimbra.

3. Server – this will be the f.q.d.n of the Zimbra server.  By default an SSL connection over port 443 will be attempted which Zimbra supports.  You can optionally specify an alternative port.  For example, I could come in externally over port 8080 and then have that translated by NAT to port 443 and sent to the Zimbra server.  Without a port defined, 443 is implied.

     Domain – not required with internal Zimbra authentication.  If authenticating with LDAP integration, this field would likely need to be populated.

4. Username – the name tied to the account in Zimbra.

5. Password – 12345

     Description – not used in Zimbra Mobile configuration.  It’s merely a differentiator for the account on a mobile device which may have multiple accounts set up.

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If things are working correctly, you’ll be able to tap the blue Next button and you’ll be prompted to verify the synchronization of all three types of items: Mail, Contacts, and Calendars.  Once the account configuration is saved you’ll also see an additional slider showing that SSL is ON (the default).

Next up is to configure my wife’s Kindle Fire.  I don’t expect any issues there.

VMware VCAP5-DCD BETA Exam Experience

February 13th, 2012

This morning I sat the VCAP5-DCD BETA exam just as soon as the certification doors opened here at VMware Partner Exchange 2012 (follow the action using the Twitter hash tag #VMwarePEX).  As usual, I can’t cover exam content in detail but I’ll briefly cover the experience in explicitly vague detail so as not to violate any policies.

Just like the VCAP4-DCD BETA I sat over a year ago, the exam length was 130 questions to be answered within a 225 minute time constraint.  From what I gathered, all questions asked were fair in that they came straight from the beta blueprint.  When you read through the blueprint, pay attention to any areas of coverage new to you – it’s all fair game for the exam.  If you’re not familiar with some of the content, be sure you obtain at least a baseline understanding to have a chance at fielding the questions with success. As was the case with the VCAP4-DCD, question types include multiple choice, choose 2 or 3 that apply, drag -n- drop to match this to that, and build a diagram.  Questions can be marked for review but the navigational button to go back to a previous question did not work for me once I had advanced to the next question.  Many of the non-multiple choice questions inherently have a lot of reading associated with them.  Digest the information as quickly and accurately as possible and move on.  Be sure to understand what version of vSphere the question is referring to – there are design and operational differences between vSphere 4 and vSphere 5.  Some of the questions involved performing math on the dry erase board.  A calculator provided with the exam would have saved a little time.

Time management was a challenge for me on this VMware BETA exam.  I ran out of time leaving many questions either unanswered or in the case of lengthy questions requiring a lot of reading, answered with a guess.  If you plan on sitting this VMware BETA exam, you might consider saving all of your feedback for a consolidated email to after the exam, rather than providing feedback on each individual question during the exam itself.  One needs to study everything on the blueprint but in my opinion, this is still an experience based exam for the most part.  Sure there is some material you can get through from book and white paper knowledge but the scope of the exam itself is broad enough that several titles would be required to cover all of the content.  I felt confident enough in the material covered that I can pass the exam based on content alone.  If I need to sit the exam again, in all likelihood it will be due to my lack of adequate time management. I should have my results within a few months.

As far as the Partner Exchange testing center – a few tips for those at Partner Exchange who will spend some time in the exam room this week:

  1. It’s cold. Wear a long sleeved shirt or sweater.
  2. It’s loud (large events going on nearby).  Bring some ear plugs if you have any.
  3. Time management once the exam begins. I can’t stress that enough on the advanced level exams.
  4. I asked if coffee was allowed in the exam room.  They told me clearly it was not so I got rid of mine only to find out several candidates had coffee with them in the testing center.  Don’t ask, just walk in with your drink unless they stop you.
  5. The on site staff is very friendly and did a great job.  Be sure to ask questions if you have any.  If you paid the $200 beta exam fee because the discount voucher didn’t work when you registered, the staff will refund that for you.
  6. Enjoy your testing experience.
  7. Good luck!

I’ve heard only rumors so far on Twitter, no formal announcements from VMware, that the VCAP5-DCD exam will qualify towards VCP5 certification and possibly VCDX5.  We’ll have to wait and see what develops there.  One thing is absolute:  VMware made it clear there was a February 29 deadline to obtain VCP5 upgrade certification without requiring formal classroom training (and the associated costs).  Because of this, many individuals, including myself, rushed to shell out the exam fee for VCP5 before the deadline in order to avoid training costs if sitting the VCP5 exam after February 29.  I speak for myself when I say that if I had known a VCAP5-DCD exam would qualify for VCP5 certification without additional training, I would have waited to save money on the VCP5 exam fee.

Update 4/25/12: Pass/Fail results were sent out today by VMware which confirmed my time management needed improvement.  A more detailed score report will be sent sometime in May.  I’ll be sitting this exam again when the final version is launched.  I saw a lot of tweets today announcing a pass.  My congratulations go out to those folks.

Update 7/19/12: I passed the GA version of the VCAP5-DCD exam.  That experience was different and I’ve written about it here.

View Pool And Desktop Hung in Deleting State

February 7th, 2012

The VMware View 5.0 environment in the lab has been running well and has proven itself as an extremely reliable remote access replacement for the old Citrix Presentation Server 4.0 solution I had in the past.  However, in an effort to address a licensing issue related to the View App for iPad demo environment, I managed to force both a pool and a single desktop from within that pool into a perpetually stuck state of ‘deleting’.  In addition, the VM representing the desktop was gone, but I could see from within vCenter the parent replica for the pool still remained.  I spent some time poking at it from several angles including the View Connection Server, the vCenter Server, and the View Composer Server.  It became clear that the underlying issue was deeper, in a database perhaps, and couldn’t be resolved using the standard management tools VMware offers.

The issue isn’t an uncommon one and I quickly turned up familiar hits at VMware’s community forums spanning a few different versions of VMware View.  The root cause is explained in VMware KB Article 1008658 which applies to View versions 3.x through 5.2.x (this KB article also walks through the steps of manually deleting pae-VMs from the ADAM database as well as manually deleting dubious SVI_rows from various tables in the View Composer database as necessary).  Also see Manually deleting linked clones or stale virtual desktop entries from VMware View Manager 4.5 and later at VMware KB 2015112 (which uses the SviConfig.exe View Composer utility and is linked from KB 1008658):

This issue occurs if a table in the database has an incorrect data. It can also occur if the virtual machine name has been changed in the vCenter Server manually after the pool has been created, causing View Composer and vCenter Server to refer to the same virtual machine with different names.

The problem can largely be avoided by managing the View environment with the intended tool – the VMware View Administrator interface as opposed to making changes outside of View, such as using VMware vCenter.

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Resolving the issue is achieved by following the detailed in the KB articles above.  Follow the steps carefully and slowly in a production View environment and keep in mind that not all steps may be required for your particular situation.

How to properly remove vSphere datastores

January 18th, 2012

Right click on the datastore object and choose Delete, right? Wrong.

Following are two good VMware articles outlining the correct procedure for removing datastores in a vSphere environment:


StarWind Releases iSCSI SAN Software Enhanced by VM Backup Technology

January 17th, 2012

Press Release:

New StarWind iSCSI SAN v5.8 and Hyper Backup Plug-in are a New Level of Data Protection

SnagIt CaptureBurlington, MA – January 13, 2012StarWind Software Inc., an innovative provider of SAN software for iSCSI storage and VM Backup technology, today announced the release of new StarWind iSCSI SAN v5.8 and Hyper-V Backup Plug-in. The iSCSI SAN software is enhanced by the powerful VM Backup technology that is included as a plug-in.

Backup plug-in is built specifically for Hyper-V-based environments to provide fast backup and restore for Hyper-V virtual machines. The backup solution delivered by StarWind performs all operations on the Hyper-V host level thus it requires no backup agents to be installed on virtual machines (Agentless Architecture).

Hyper-V Backup Plug-in makes fast backups and allows quick, reliable restore of both virtual machines and individual files. It utilizes advanced technologies for maximum disk space saving (Global Deduplication). This backup tool is integrated with StarWind Centralized Management Console that enables managing backup and storage from a single window.

Additionally, a new version of HA plug-in is presented in StarWind iSCSI SAN v5.8 that allows use of raw basic images to create HA targets. A new replication engine based on own technology instead of MS iSCSI transport creates higher performance and reliability. This new engine permits use of multiple network interfaces for synchronization and heartbeat.

To simplify the replacement of equipment and recovery of fatal failures, StarWind Software has implemented the ability to change the partner node to any other StarWind server without any downtime and on the fly. Synchronization engine is improved, and this version allows both nodes to sync automatically even in the case of a full blackout of both servers.

“With the release of StarWind iSCSI SAN v5.8 our company is happy to provide our customers with highly available storage and fast backup software developed by the same vendor,” said Artem Berman, Chief Executive Officer of StarWind Software. “Now small and medium-sized companies have an opportunity to achieve higher performance and absolute data protection.”

About StarWind Software Inc.
StarWind Software is a global leader in storage management and SAN software for small and midsize companies. StarWind’s flagship product is SAN software that turns any industry-standard Windows Server into a fault-tolerant, fail-safe iSCSI SAN. StarWind iSCSI SAN is qualified for use with VMware, Hyper-V, XenServer and Linux and Unix environments. StarWind Software focuses on providing small and midsize companies with affordable, highly availability storage technology which previously was only available in high-end storage hardware. Advanced enterprise-class features in StarWind include Automated HA Storage Node Failover and Failback (High Availability), Replication across a WAN, CDP and Snapshots, Thin Provisioning and Virtual Tape management.

Since 2003, StarWind has pioneered the iSCSI SAN software industry and is the solution of choice for over 30,000 customers worldwide in more than 100 countries and from small and midsize companies to governments and Fortune 1000 companies.

For more information on StarWind Software Inc., visit:

Path Set for Dell Storage Forum 2012 London

January 11th, 2012

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In just a few days, Dell Storage Forum 2012 kicks off at the Grange St Paul’s Hotel in London. I will be in attendance and I hope that you will have the chance to join myself and the rest of the Dell staff and of course an array of storage customers, channel partners, enthusiasts, and analysts. At DSF your appetite will be satisfied with Executive lead Keynote sessions, Breakout sessions delivered by Technical Experts, Instructor lead training, and Hands-on/Self-Paced labs covering Compellent Storage Center, Dell EqualLogic, and PowerVault storage.

This venue won’t be an exact carbon copy of past DSF events. Dell Storage will be showcasing an updated product roadmap and we’ll also see new product announcements. One of the announcements you’ll hear about is the availability of Compellent Storage Center 6.0. As a Technical Marketing Product Specialist who spends all time working on the VMware integration points, this is a release I’ve been looking forward to since starting my career at Dell Compellent in May of last year. This is a significant launch for Dell Compellent from an architectural perspective. SC 6.0 now leverages the FreeBSD 64-bit platform. The 64-bit architecture is the springboard for new features launched this week (such as multithreading opportunities and 12GB memory per Series 40 controller) and will serve as a key enabler for future scalability, integration, and feature enhancements.

If you’re a current Dell Compellent customer with vSphere 4.1 or newer in your datacenter, you know that through SC 5.5.x we supported one VAAI primitive: Zero Blocks or Write Same. Storage Center 6.0 supports additional VMware vSphere VAAI primitives:

  • Copy Offload
  • Hardware Assisted Locking
  • Of course we still support Block Zeroing

On a side note, VMware also released a 4th VAAI primitive in vSphere 5 focusing on Thin Provisioning for block storage arrays.  However, shortly after the release, VMware pulled support on this primitive (applies to all storage vendors) to work out some kinks.  I wrote about that here.

VAAI excites me because of the performance and scalability gains it brings to the vSphere virtual datacenter in addition to vSphere bolt ons such as VMware View and vCloud Director.

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Compellent SC 6.0 VAAI support:

  • 41% faster block cloning operations on Eager Zeroed Thick and Lazy Zeroed Thick virtual disks
  • 98% faster Eager Zeroed Thick disk creation
  • Up to 100% reduction in Block Zeroing data traffic from host to storage
  • Offloaded operations result in significantly reduced copy traffic between host and storage
  • Offloaded operations result in reduction of ESX(i) host resource and storage fabric utilization

Find more details about VAAI at VMware KB 1021976 vStorage APIs for Array Integration FAQ.

This should be a really great week.  Personally, it will be my first Dell Compellent focused conference.  I do hope to see you there and look forward to some good discussions.  If you’re not able to attend in person, you can use these links to follow the action remotely:

Event Links:

Twitter/Social Media Links:

Other Links: