I’m a vExpert!

In June this year, VMware opened applications for their vExpert program. For those not familiar with it, it’s VMware’s “global evangelism and advocacy program”. A key part of it is giving back to the community. This can be via blog posts, helping people on VMware’s forums, participating in VMware user groups and so on. I threw my hat into the ring for it, without any real expectations.

Anyone who has worked with VMware products for any amount of time has ended up relying on the output created by people who are vExperts. I know I have. When viewing the list of people in the vExpert Directory, there was a lot of blog URLs that I recognised.

So when I got the email this week saying I was one of the lucky ones, it was a pleasant surprise. It’s an honor to be recognised by VMware for this. Congratulations to everyone else who got their vExpert awards this year.

vCenter 6.7 Update 2 – Code Capture

One of the very cool new features that came with the latest vCenter update is Code Capture. This feature allows you to “record” actions in the HTML 5 web client. When the “recording” is ended, Code Capture will generate PowerCLI.NET code. For those who used Exchange 2007, you may remember a similar feature in the GUI management console. At the end of each wizard, there was a summary of PowerShell code that would perform the same task you just finished.

Code Capture has been around for a while as part of the HTML 5 Client Web Fling. However, at the time, it was not appropriate for production use. With the feature being included in 6.7 Update 2, it now is appropriate for use.

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VMware vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager 1.2 – First Impressions

When VMware created the vRealize brand, they grouped together some of their most complex products under one banner. vRealize Automation (vRA) required the deployment and configuration of two components – a virtual appliance and a Windows server. The Windows server had a long list of prerequisites. In terms of operational management, using products like vRA meant ongoing work on scripts, workflows and other artifacts. The logical response to this is to create a non-production instance to protect your production instance. Moving updates to production could be achieved manually or via VMware’s Codestream product, but both approaches left a lot to be desired. vRealize Suite Life Cycle Manager (vRSLCM or just LCM) is a new approach to this set of problems.

Getting LCM Running

LCM comes supplied as a “Virtual Application” where a few configuration options are required to provision it. One of the LCM-specific settings is whether you want to enable the vaguely named “Content Management”. Enabling this will cause the appliance to use 4 processors instead of 2. Once the appliance is deployed and started, the rest of the configuration happens via the web interface.

Enable Content Management
Enable Content Management

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VCSA 6.5 Root Account Password – Reset and Cause Investigation

One of the more frustrating experiences one can experience with VMware’s vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) is having the root account locked out or forgetting the password for it.  I recently experienced this after I rebuilt the VCSA in my home lab from scratch.

How to Reset the VCSA Root Password

VMware have a short process on how to reset the password for the root account, detailed in KB2147144.  THe process is:

  1. Backup the VCSA (via snapshot or other means)
  2. Reboot the VCSA
  3. During the boot process, when the photon splash screen appears press the e key to get into the boot menu
  4. In the text box that appears, go to the line starting with “linux”.  Go to the end of the line (which is right after the text “consoleblank=0”) and enter the text rw init=/bin/bash  This will cause the boot process to jump right into the bash shell without needing credentials
  5. Press F10 to continue booting
  6. At the command prompt, run the passwd command to reset the password
  7. Unmount the file system by running umount /
  8. Reboot the VCSA using reboot -f
  9. Following reboot, confirm the new password works
  10. If you took a snapshot in step 1 remove it


Cause Investigation

After resetting the password and restarting, I still couldn’t login.  One thing I noticed was there had already been 20 login failures.  In my situation, the VCSA was working one evening and the following morning the login issues happened.  Something had to be causing these issues.  Using the password reset process to get to the bash shell again, I looked around in some logs.  First I tried checking the /var/log/messages log.

Failed Logins search using grep
Failed Logins search using grep

Unfortunately, using ‘FAILED’ only showed 2 login attempts on the console which were caused by myself after the lockout happened.  Failed SSH login attempts are logged under a text string that uses ‘Failed”.  The second search attempt used ‘Failed’ and yielded better results.

Search results using 'Failed'
Search results using ‘Failed’

The log had numerous entries for trying to login using root and other accounts.  The system on was the trial of Nexpose.  Even though I didn’t have credentials set in Nexpose to logon to the VCSA, it still was trying to logon using root and was causing the failures.  This hadn’t been an issue prior to the VCSA rebuild.

I excluded the VCSA from the scanning that Nexpose performs and did the password reset process again.  I was now able to login successfully.


VMware NSX – First Impressions

One of the first “killer applications” on the PC platform was Lotus 1-2-3, a spread sheeting program that greatly improved the productivity of the people using it and making a clear case for buying PCs.  More recently, we’ve seen this sort of thing happening in IT infrastructure, with virtualisation, automation, cloud and “as a service”.  VMware’s NSX product is the latest in a line of products from VMware in this sort of area.

If we go back to the “good old days” of getting a server up and running, it could take weeks.  The diagram below shows the amount of effort involved.

Old school server provisioning
Old school server provisioning

While some of these numbers may have been more or less depending on circumstances, in many cases it could’ve taken over 150 business hours to get a server ready for use.  Or almost a full month.

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Want hands on with Virtual Volumes? EMC has a Virtual Appliance for that

Virtual Volumes (VVols) is a new method of managing storage introduced in VMware vSphere 6.0.  Unlike many of the new features in vSphere 6.0, VVols requires not just vSphere 6.0 to work, but a storage device that supports the technology.  Fortunately, EMC have produced a virtual appliance that emulates a storage device with VVol support, so you can get some practical exposure to Virtual Volumes without needing a shiny new storage array.  Download and documetation can be found at http://www.emc.com/products-solutions/trial-software-download/vvols.htm  The process for getting Virtual Volumes completely working is rather long, as the flow chart from EMC’s documentation below shows:

Virtual Volumes Workflow
Virtual Volumes Workflow

I’ll run through the steps in getting the Appliance and Virtual Volumes working on a vSphere installation.

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