May 19 2016

Going to HPE Discover 2016? Visit my demo and sign-up for my session to learn about VVols

For anyone attending HPE Discover in Vegas next month, if you want to learn more about VVols or anything related to VMware visit my VMware focused demo and sign-up for my storage for VMware session.

My session info is below, it’s a theater session so it will be out on the show floor. I’ll be doing a comparison of File & Block protocols and also cover VMware’s new Virtual Volumes (VVols) storage architecture and the impact it has on both block and file storage. You can search on my session ID or last name to find it in the Session Catalog.

Discover2016-Session

My VMware demo (ID: 8773) is located in the Transform area of the Solutions Expo and is listed as “Storage Solutions for VMware”. I’ll have a live VMware environment with both 3PAR and StoreVirtual storage so you can see all of our VMware integration in action. VMware is a Gold sponsor of the event and has their own booth there as well. You can also visit some of my valued sponsors at the event as Veeam, VMTurbo and Zerto all have booth’s at the event as well.

Hope to see you there!

May 18 2016

R.I.P. vSphere C# Client – VMware has officially written your obituary

vsphere-client-tombstone-cropRemember that painful goodbye you had to say to your beloved ESX hypervisor with the full Service Console back in 2011 when vSphere 5.0 was released with only ESXi? Well you better get ready to finally say goodbye to the vSphere C# (pronounced C-Sharp) Windows thick client also as VMware has just announced that the vSphere C# client is officially dead in the next vSphere release. VMware ESX was first released in 2001 and in 2008 VMware introduced the new lightweight ESXi hypervisor. At the time when ESXi launched, users basically had a choice on which hypervisor they wanted to deploy as they both provided the same core hypervisor functionality, the key difference between the two was in the manageability options. In it’s initial release ESXi had a lot of limitations compared to ESX and adoption of it was slow. Over time VMware built up the manageability of ESXi and once they felt it was on equal ground as ESX they retired ESX 3 years after the release of ESXi.

The vSphere C# Client has always been the main management interface for vSphere back to the early days of vCenter Server. Originally called the VirtualCenter Client it debuted with the VirtualCenter 1.0 release back in 2003. The VirtualCenter Client was renamed to the VI Client with the VI3 release in 2006 and later renamed to the current vSphere Client name as part of the vSphere 4.0 release in 2009. The vSphere C# Client is a Windows based application as it is written using Microsoft’s C# programming language within it’s .NET initiative. Being available only to Windows users resulted in a lot of griping from people that wanted a Mac and Linux client that would run natively on those operating systems and not cause them to install Windows just to manage their vSphere environment. As the mobile revolution ramped up as well having a client that you could run on an iPad was also desired. VMware did launch an iPad application and a mobile access client back in 2011 that used a vCenter Mobile Access (vCMA) appliance as a proxy to vCenter Server for management. It worked OK but it was yet another management interface that VMware had to develop and maintain.

vc-clientThe original VirtualCenter Client interface circa 2003

The current vSphere Web Client developed in Adobe Flex (Flash-based) was first introduced as part of vSphere 5.1 in 2012 as VMware felt they needed a fully featured universal cross-platform client that would work across any device (Windows/Linux/Mac/Mobile). Prior to vSphere 5.1 there was a pretty basic web access interface that could be used to manage vSphere in a very limited fashion. Over the years VMware has worked to improve the vSphere Web Client, the first iteration had a lot of limitations and missing feature support along with poor performance. Many people chose not to use it because of this and preferred to use the C# Client instead which was much quicker and had no limitations beyond being a Windows only client. One of the biggest grips with the vSphere Web Client was it was flash-based which has it’s own issues including limited device support. Despite VMware’s best efforts to improve it, most people still hated the vSphere Web Client as some of the core issues still existed (slow & flash-based) and you couldn’t use it on devices that did not support flash. As a result adoption wasn’t very high, people were still complaining and VMware was forced to keep the C# Client around.

VMware recognized that a new approach was needed and developed a new vSphere Web Client based purely on HTML5 & JavaScript which is both faster and has broader device/browser support as flash is not required anymore. In March this year they released a new HTML5 Web Client as a Fling which is kind of there pre-release development sandbox for tools and new features in vSphere. This new vSphere Web Client will eventually be natively part of the next release of vSphere and at that time the C# Client will no longer be available. VMware believes this new client will resolve all the gripes and complaints of the old web client and that they are at the point were they no longer want to maintain the C# Client.

vSphere-HTML5-Web-Client-Windows-Fig-8

New vSphere HTML5 Web Client Fling interface

Whether people will satisfied with this new web client remains to be seen, the key thing is they no longer have a choice of clients going forward. It’s a bit unusual to see VMware making a special announcement about something like this far in advance of an actual release but I bet VMware wants to prep people now rather than spring it on them at release time and have that possible negativity overshadow the release itself. Think of it as telling someone they have 6 months or so to live so they can prepare for that fatal day instead of telling them a week in advance. When the time comes the uproar will have died down, the mourning will have passed and most people will just have to accept the fact that they have to make a change.

Remember VMware never keeps 2 of anything around that do the same thing as it’s double the development work for them. ESX was retired, the C# Client is being retired and at some point I expect VMFS to be retired as well in favor of VVols. Whether you like it or not the C# Client’s days are numbered, you can either choose to switch to the vSphere Web Client or stay on the current 6.0 release with the C# Client. Hopefully VMware will make it an easy decision by providing a HTML5 Web Client that everyone is happy with. The C# client will continue to be available with all supported versions of vSphere, all 5.x and 6.0 versions will offer this interface through the posted end of support dates.

VMware has not announced any timing as far as when the next vSphere release will be available but when they do at least you will be already prepared for the loss of your beloved vSphere C# Client. Here’s some additional information that VMware has provided on the new vSphere Web Client:

FAQs

>What is VMware announcing on 5/18/16?
VMware is announcing that the C# client will no longer be available with the next release of vSphere.

>Why is VMware making this announcement now?
VMware has been transiting away from the C# client for the last several releases. In recent updates made to vSphere 6.0 VMware has moved functionality into the web client (such as Update Manager) that has further removed the need to run the C# client at all. VMware is also committed in its journey to provide an HTML5-based Web Client in addition to its Flash-based offering to market.

>Why is the web client (WC) a better choice than the c# client?

  • Scalability – WC handles more objects and more concurrent admin access
  • Bookmarking URLs – WC allows you to quickly return to specific objects or views and share them with others (such as in a support ticket)
  • Recent Objects – WC lets you navigate quickly between things you’re working on
  • Work-In-Progress – WC lets you save your work and come back to it later, even from another computer!
  • Enhanced Linked Mode – WC can call up all your inventory in one view
  • Remembers user customizations to UI – WC enables column selections and widths on grids, portlets on summary pages
  • Latest feature support – WC is the only interface to support all new features

>“I hate f lash and don’t want to use a web client that uses that technology layer”

VMware agrees that flash is not the solution for the long-term. Our long-term direction is to utilize HTML5. Customers can experience this right now by using our flings for both the embedded host client and web client available at https://labs.vmware.com/flings. An HTML5 client will be available in future versions of vSphere.

>When is the next release of vSphere?

The date or launch timing for the next release of vSphere is not being disclosed at this time.

>Will the C# client still be available at all?

The C# client will still be supported with all non-EOL’d vSphere versions prior and post the next release.

>Has performance and overall usability being addressed in the web client?

Performance and overall usability have been dramatically improved with the release of vSphere 6 update 1 (released September 2015) and even further enhanced now that update 2 has become available (March 2016). We invite all customers to test the latest web client with our latest releases.

>I use specific plug-ins with vCenter. How do I migrate Web Client 3rd party plug-ins to HTML5?

Around 30-40% of the partner plug-ins are already in HTML5, we are working with the rest of the partner base to migrate them over to HTML5.

>Is VMware really listening to its customers? Haven’t you heard my feedback on the web client?

Yes, we are listening. The fling work on the HTML5 client plus the release of the embedded host client are evidence that we are paying attention and listening to customer feedback. To provide an example, let’s dive into this a bit further in this topic.

The vSphere C# Client today serves two unique purposes:

  • Connecting to the vCenter Server
  • Directly connecting to ESXi host

For the first purpose, the existing vSphere Web Client based on flash is that interface and directionally, through the HTML5 Fling, you can see VMware is preparing to move off of the flash requirement and providing a much speedier/modern interface for managing and operating vCenter Server.

For the second purpose, the Embedded Host Client (also HTML5- based) started out as a fling and now has become an officially shipping feature out of the box with vSphere 6.0 Update 2. This means that customers no longer require the vSphere C# Client to connect to individual ESXi host. This works for both licensed product as well as the free vSphere Hypervisor.

May 08 2016

Registration for VMworld 2016 US now open – key information to know

Registration for VMworld 2016 in the US is now open, here’s some key information about the event:

  • Dates/Times: VMworld US runs from Sunday, Aug. 28th until Thursday, Sept. 1st. On Sunday except for partner/TAM activities, nothing much is going on until 5:00pm when the Welcome Reception kicks off where you can mingle with all the sponsors in the Solutions Exchange and grab some food and drink. The first general session/keynote is Monday morning at 9:00am (Pat Gelsinger) and afterwards Breakout Sessions and the Solutions Exchange is open from 11:00am-6:00pm. This repeats on Tuesday, also on Wednesday but no keynote and things shutdown a bit earlier (5:00pm) because of the official VMworld party at 7:30pm. Thursday is typically a slower day as things are winding down and the event shuts down at 3:00pm. You can view the full agenda here.
  • Location: VMworld is back in Vegas baby! The last time VMworld was in Vegas was 2011, the first VMworld that I attended in 2008 was also located in Vegas. However this time instead of the Venetian were it has historically been it’s now at Mandalay Bay. Why the change from San Francisco this year? Construction going on at Moscone Center triggered the change this year. How well will VMworld fit inside Mandalay Bay? Read my post here on that topic. I for one welcome the change of venue as it means less walking, better food, cheaper hotels and no earthquakes.
  • Pricing: There are various discounts available for registration. Early bird pricing discounts are in effect now until June 6th, this typically saves you about $300. With the early bird discounts, individual registration is $1695, if you have been to two or more VMworlds as a paid full conference attendee you apply for the Alumni discount as well which gets you another $200 off ($1495). There are also discounts for government, education, VCP, VMUG and groups. If you can’t afford the registration fee keep your eyes open as many vendors offer promotional free passes for VMworld in the months leading up to the event. As luck would have it VMTurbo has a drawing in May, June and July were you have a chance to win 2 free passes to VMworld so go sign-up for that.
  • Sessions: Public voting is now open for sessions until May 24th where you can influence which sessions make it in to the event. Speaker notifications are tentatively set to go out on June 14th, the dreaded “we’re sorry” email for many of us. The content catalog of approved sessions is scheduled to go live June 21st so you can see which sessions made the cut and the schedule builder goes live July 19th so you can start to add them to your schedule. It’s recommended to do this early as popular sessions fill up very fast. When sessions fill up you can be added to a waiting list and often times a 2nd running of the session is added for hot sessions.
  • Partner Exchange: VMware phased out their annual Partner Exchange event (PEX), traditionally held in February, last year and merged it into VMworld. PEX at VMworld is a scaled down version of the event and takes place before VMworld officially kicks off Sunday evening with the Welcome Reception. It is meant for VMware partners only (no customers) and takes place on Saturday & Sunday with boot camps, keynotes and breakout sessions. The content is more geared towards sales enablement audiences to help them better sell VMware products. This is typically a registration add-on, you can read more about this here.
  • Justification: I did a sample justification letter many years ago back in 2008 when I wrote for Tech Target. The VMworld crew must of seen that as they have offered one as well in subsequent years, you can download the current one that they have here. I know the cost of VMworld can be a hard sell especially if you are a customer, it’s definitely worth it though so take the time and try and make a solid business case for it. With VMworld in Vegas this year it might be cheaper overall with lower hotel costs and cheaper flights.
  • Hotels: After hotel sticker shock in San Francisco the last few years paying $300-$600/night for a hotel often times with no frills, Vegas is a breath of fresh air where you can get a great hotel with loads of amenities for under $150/night. There are special VMworld rates at the Mandalay Bay and other nearby hotels that you can book as part of your VMworld registration. Mandalay Bay is $149/night, Delano (formerly THEhotel) is $189/night, MGM Grand is $75-$140/night and the Luxor is $50/night (plus the dumb resort fees), if you book direct to the hotel the rates are a bit higher but you can always find hotel deals in Vegas. How awesome is that, 4 nights in Vegas cheaper than 1 night in San Francisco. Again don’t wait to book your hotel if you want to be closer to the event or at the Mandalay Bay.
  • The Band: A favorite topic of mine and I anxiously await each year to find out who the band will be as it is always great to have some good entertainment after a few days of deep knowledge absorption. I’ve been mostly disappointed the last few years in the band they chose, every year though I am cautiously optimistic that they will get a good band that I like. You can see the full list of VMworld bands over the years here and also read about the economic side of how much it costs to hire those bands.

VMware has a full FAQ on VMworld here that you can also look through that answers many common questions about the event. As the event draws closer I’ll be posting more links and information on it. See you in Vegas!

May 07 2016

Public session voting now open for VMworld

I’m not sure VMware has officially announced it yet but public voting for VMworld session submissions is now open. I haven’t seen any tweets on it from the @VMworld account and the main VMworld web page doesn’t mention it yet but the Content Catalog is now live and after some poking around I found the Vote for Sessions link on the VMworld site on the Learning drop down tab. The link basically just takes you to the Content Catalog which I posted about yesterday, but you can vote on your favorite sessions if you login to the site.

Public voting for VMworld sessions will be open from May 3rd – May 24th at 11:59pm PST. The public voting is just one part of a whole scoring process that includes also content committee voting and sponsor voting. VMware reserves a small chunk of session slots (5%) that they call Customer Choice that can make it in via the public voting, the remainder of the session slots typically are filled up by VMware sessions, sponsor sessions and sessions that score favorably through the content committee voting.

Important!

I’d greatly appreciate your vote for my submission which is a session on VVols with lots of new and updated information that is the sequel to the session that I presented last year at VMworld. Simply search on my last name (Siebert) or session ID (7925) to find it.

You can vote on as many sessions as you want, since the list is so large (1,575) you are better of searching or filtering it on topics that interest you. You can only cast one vote for a session though. To vote on sessions do the following:

Go to the VMworld home page and click login at the top of the page.

vote3=editIf you don’t have an existing VMworld account, still click the login link but at the login page click Create Account. You’ll need to enter some basic required information (username, email, address info) and then an account will be created for you.

vote4-editOnce you’re logged in select the Learning tab on the page and select the Vote on Public Sessions link.

vote5-edit-cropOn the Public Sessions page click the link to vote and you’ll be re-directed to the Content Catalog.

vote5.5-editOnce you are at the Content Catalog you will see the fill list of sessions, enter a search term (i.e. speaker name, VVols, VSAN, etc.) or select filters from the left side (track/sub-track/type). Once you find a session you want to vote on simply click the star at the end of the session name and it will turn yellow and that’s it, your vote is in for that session, repeat for any other sessions you want to vote on.

vote6-edit

May 06 2016

VMworld 2016 session catalog now online

The session catalog for VMworld 2016 just appeared online, my google search filter on VVols picked it up and alerted me. I’m not sure if that was intentional or not on VMware’s part but they might be getting ready for the public voting process that is part of the session scoring that determines which sessions are approved or denied. Right now there are 1,575 sessions listed in the catalog as shown below:

sessions1A quick search on my favorite topic, VVols, reveals 18 sessions including my own submission (7925):

session2June 14th is when notifications are made to session owners, so I imagine the public voting will begin next week and run for several weeks. Of those 1,575 submissions there are probably only a couple hundred that will make it so be sure and get your votes in once the voting goes live.

May 05 2016

Top bloggers and vExperts converge on the Denver UserCon

The Denver UserCon is on Thursday, May 26th this year from 8:00am-5:00pm in downtown Denver at the Hyatt Regency located at 650 15th Street. This will be my first Denver UserCon in a few years after returning from living in Phoenix for 2 years. As a former Denver VMUG Leader I’ve watched this one mature over the years and grow larger. I actually organized an event of this nature before the UserCon’s existed back in 2010, I called it a Super VMUG and had Scott Lowe, Doug Hazelman and Rob Randall all speaking along with several other vendors.

This year you’ll get to see a trio of Top bloggers and vExperts at the Denver UserCon with Scott Lowe leading off with the morning keynote on NSX, followed by Chris Wahl doing the lunch keynote on tech skills (I saw this in Silicon Valley and it was great) and myself batting clean-up with a session on VVols right after the lunch keynote.

So if you are in the Denver area put this on your calendar and go register for it. I’ll also be at the HPE Booth so stop by and say hi. And as we just lost another long-time Denver VMUG leader, Kevin Divine, who packed up and moved to Minnesota if you are interested in being a Denver VMUG leader be sure and reach out to the VMUG staff.

May 04 2016

Female vBloggers – my door is always open

Gina Minks from Dell/EMC recently wrote up a post on her site as a reaction to a tweet of mine alleging that I (and apparently others) ignore female vBloggers. I can assure you that this is simply not true and as a matter of fact I ignore both male and female bloggers equally. What I mean by that is I really don’t have the time to constantly search for new bloggers that might be not listed on my vLaunchpad blog list. Bloggers come and go constantly and right now I maintain almost 500 blogs on my blog list. Between a day job, maintaining 3 websites, link collecting and blogging I rarely have time to even relax these days.

What I rely on to keep my vLaunchpad up to date is you coming to me and telling me you are not listed and need to be added. I typically add 40-50 new blogs a year to my site and do it in periodic batches as cutting and pasting table cells up and down to keep everything alphabetized is a lot of work. The reality is only a few female bloggers took the initiative and filled out the simple form to get added, Jane Rimmer, Amy Manley and Melissa Palmer, in fact Melissa was the overwhelming favorite in the New blog category last year and placed in the top 50.

Concerning female vBloggers this year I had a new category nomination in my Top vBlog voting for Favorite Female Blogger. Again this is all self-nomination as I can’t possibly keep track of who’s male, who’s female, who’s independent, who’s new, etc. I only had 2 nominations so I didn’t add the category to the final ballot. That was a bit disappointing as I was hoping there would be more, I even tweeted the below out hoping to attract more:

femaleThe bottom line is female vBloggers I’m not ignoring you, I just don’t have the time to search for you or any other blogger for that matter. I would love to have more female vBloggers on my list, so if you’re out there and your blog is related to virtualization simply use this form and I’ll get you added and hopefully next year we’ll have a much better response in that voting category. You can read my full response to Gina’s post here.

May 02 2016

Voting now open for Top vBlog 2016

The number of blogs devoted to VMware and virtualization continues to stay at an amazingly high level, this year there are more than 300 of them on the ballot. Here’s your chance to show your appreciation to the bloggers for all their hard work by picking your favorites which will determine the top blogs for 2016. Last year over 2,200 people voted from all over the world and when the votes were tallied the top 50 bloggers were revealed. Now it’s time to do it all over again as new blogs are born and old blogs fade away and bloggers move up and down the rankings. When casting your votes please keep the following in mind about the blogs.

  • Longevity – Anyone can start a blog but it requires dedication, time & effort to keep it going. Some bloggers start a blog only to have it fall to the wayside several months later. Things always come up in life but the good bloggers keep going regardless of what is happening in their life.
  • Length – It’s easy to make a quick blog post without much content, nothing wrong with this as long as you have good content in the post that people will enjoy. But some bloggers post pretty long detailed posts which takes a lot of time and effort to produce. The tip of the hat goes to these guys that burn the midnight oil trying to get you some great detailed information.
  • Frequency – Some bloggers post several times a week which provides readers with lots of content. This requires a lot of effort as bloggers have to come up with more content ideas to write about. Frequency ties into length, some do high frequency/low length, some do low frequency/high length, some do both. They’re all good and require a lot of time and effort on the bloggers part.
  • Quality – It all comes down to whats in the blog post regardless of how often or how long the blog posts are. After reading a blog post if you come away with learning something that you did not previously know and it benefits you in some way then you know you are reading a quality post. Good quality is usually the result of original content, its easy to re-hash something previously published elsewhere, the good bloggers come up with unique content or put their own unique spin on popular topics.

So please take all this into account when casting your votes, here are some more details on the voting:

  • New this year you can now pick 12 of your favorite blogs (last year was 10) and also rank them in your order of preference after you pick your 12. The results will be weighted with a #1 ranking getting 12 points and a #12 ranking getting 1 point. Point totals will be tabulated and from them the top 50 will be determined.
  • Blogs are listed on the ballot in alphabetical order, the current top 50 blogs are highlighted with their current ranking in parentheses and are also bolded so they stand out. So please go through the whole list when making your choices (Duncan ended up on the bottom).
  • Note there was a new minimum blog post requirement implemented this year to be eligible for Top vBlog voting, any blog that did not have at least 10 blog posts in 2015 is not included in the voting. Read more about this here.
  • Again this year we also having voting in special categories to help distinguish certain types of blogs. The choices of which blogs to include in the categories was the result of this survey and my best guessing. The categories are independent of the general voting so first pick and rank your top 12 overall favorite blogs and then choose your favorite blog in each category.
  • Voting will run until 5/27, afterwards the results will be determined and announced on a special live podcast with myself, John Troyer and a special guest from VMTurbo.
  • Duplicate vote protection is enabled, we’ll be using geolocation, IP addresses & cookies to protect against duplicate votes. This isn’t Chicago, please be honest and fair when voting, any suspicious votes will be tossed.
  • If you are not familiar with a blog you can click on it in the survey to view it or use my vLaunchpad to see links to them all. Try not to pick blogs based just on names but also take content into account. There are a lot of good blogs currently not in the top 50 that deserve to be there.
  • Also please keep it classy and don’t try and work the voting system to get your blog ranked as high as possible.

Once again this year we have designed a custom commemorative coin that each of the top 50 bloggers will receive. I had wanted to do separate coins for Top 10, Top 25 and Top 50 but that would of required paying for a separate die mold for each which gets costly. So instead I put Top 50 on the coin and am using different metal finishes to signify this. The Top 10 will get a Shiny Gold coin, 11-25 will get a Antique Silver coin and 26-50 will get a Antique Copper coin. Below are the finished coins from last year, they are 2″ in diameter and quite heavy.

20150211_203831-small
Of course all this is made possible by VMTurbo who is the official sponsor for Top vBlog 2016, stay tuned for more info as things will be starting up soon.

why-vhm-earth(250x125)So what are you waiting for, head on over and take the survey to cast your ballot and reward the best bloggers for their hard work and dedication by letting them know that you appreciate them.

vote-button1

Apr 28 2016

Max LUNs increased to 1024 in vSphere 6

I recently was involved in an issue where error messages where being generated in the vmkernel.log and found out the cause was related to the maximum LUNs being increased in vSphere 6 from 255 to 1024. The error messages themselves were related to the fact that our Protocol Endpoint (PE) for VVols is advertised as LUN 256 and with a recent change in 6.0U2 related to PDL assessment a LUN that returns unexpected output upon query causes the error messages similar to below from a VMTN thread:

2016-04-05T14:27:05.577Z cpu6:33386)WARNING: NMP: nmp_PathDetermineFailure:2973: Cmd (0x28) PDL error (0x5/0x25/0x0) – path vmhba2:C0:T2:L256 device naa.2ff70002ac014e9d – triggering path failover

2016-04-05T14:27:05.577Z cpu6:33386)WARNING: NMP: nmpCompleteRetryForPath:382: Logical device “naa.2ff70002ac014e9d”: awaiting fast path state update before retrying failed command again…

2016-04-05T14:27:06.577Z cpu9:57333)WARNING: NMP: nmpDeviceAttemptFailover:603: Retry world failover device “naa.2ff70002ac014e9d” – issuing command 0x43a5cc84e400

2016-04-05T14:27:06.577Z cpu6:33386)WARNING: NMP: nmpCompleteRetryForPath:352: Retry cmd 0x28 (0x43a5cc84e400) to dev “naa.2ff70002ac014e9d” failed on path “vmhba2:C0:T3:L256” H:0x0 D:0x2 P:0x0 Valid sense data: 0x5 0x25 0x0.

2016-04-05T14:27:06.577Z cpu6:33386)WARNING: NMP: nmp_PathDetermineFailure:2973: Cmd (0x28) PDL error (0x5/0x25/0x0) – path vmhba2:C0:T3:L256 device naa.2ff70002ac014e9d – triggering path failover

Note the L256 in the above path that is related to LUN 256 (Protocol Endpoint) which is not a traditional LUN in the sense as it has no storage allocated to it and serves as an administrative LUN (LU_CONG) to access VVol sub-LUNs. Here’s some detail on the PDL change in vSphere 6.0 U2 and subsequent errors that it may cause:

 

Important!

New Issue ESXi 6.0 Update 2 hosts connected to certain storage arrays with a particular version of the firmware might see I/O timeouts and subsequent aborts When ESXi 6.0 Update 2 hosts connected to certain storage arrays with a particular version of the firmware send requests for SMART data to the storage array, and if the array responds with a PDL error, the PDL response behavior in 6.0 update 2 might result in a condition where these failed commands are continuously retried thereby blocking other commands. This error results in widespread I/O timeouts and subsequent aborts.

Also, the ESXi hosts might take a long time to reconnect to the vCenter Server after reboot or the hosts might go into a Not Responding state in the vCenter Server. Storage-related tasks such as HBA rescan might take a very long time to complete.

Workaround: To resolve this issue, see Knowledge Base article 2133286.

 

The solution to eliminate these errors seems to be to change Disk.MaxLUN parameter on your ESXi Hosts to 255 for or below as this KB article outlines. Note the KB article confirms the change in max LUNs to 1024 in vSphere 6.0. But also note that this change just impacts the LUN numbering as the max supported SCSI devices remains at 256, so essentially you can have LUNs numbered higher than 255 now but you are still limited to 256 total LUNs per host as documented in the vSphere 6.0 maximum configs doc.

LUNID-edit

Apr 19 2016

VMware wants you to be a vSphere Beta Tester

VMware doesn’t do public betas that often, they did one with the initial release of VSAN and now they are doing one with the next release of vSphere. In my opinion public betas are a good thing as it helps ensure an overall better GA release as more people are offering feedback, constructive criticism and helping to uncover any bugs that may exist in the beta code. As a reward to the people who participate in the public beta you get to be part of the secret club and get an early preview of all the cool stuff coming in the next vSphere release. So if you are interested in participating VMware has a form you can fill out for consideration to be one of the chosen ones.

Be realistic when considering to sign-up for the beta, if you know you won’t have the time that is expected to participate and offer feedback then don’t sign-up. VMware is looking for your assistance, those who just want to see what’s new in the beta are really not of any value to VMware. The target audience are customers who have deployed vSphere 5.5 and 6.0 in a portion of their environment. Participants are expected to:

  • Online acceptance of the Master Software Beta Test Agreement will be required prior to visiting the Private Beta Community
  • Install beta software within 3 days of receiving access to the beta product
  • Provide feedback within the first 4 weeks of the beta program
  • Submit Support Requests for bugs, issues and feature requests
  • Complete surveys and beta test assignments
  • Participate in the private beta discussion forum and conference calls

vSphere Beta Program Overview 

We are excited to announce the upcoming VMware vSphere Beta Program. This program enables participants to help define the direction of the most widely adopted industry-leading virtualization platform. Folks who want to participate in the program can now indicate their interest by filling out this simple form. The vSphere team will grant access to the program to selected candidates in stages. This vSphere Beta Program leverages a private Beta community to download software and share information. We will provide discussion forums, webinars, and service requests to enable you to share your feedback with us.

You can expect to download, install, and test vSphere Beta software in your environment or get invited to try new features in a VMware hosted environment. All testing is free-form and we encourage you to use our software in ways that interest you. This will provide us with valuable insight into how you use vSphere in real-world conditions and with real-world test cases, enabling us to better align our product with your business needs.

Some of the many reasons to participate in this beta opportunity:

  • Receive early access to the vSphere Beta products
  • Interact with the vSphere Beta team consisting of Product Managers, Engineers, Technical Support, and Technical Writers
  • Provide direct input on product functionality, configurability, usability, and performance
  • Provide feedback influencing future products, training, documentation, and services
  • Collaborate with other participants, learn about their use cases, and share advice and learnings

Apr 18 2016

Overcoming the fear of public speaking at VMUG events

In my last post on how we can make VMUG events better the topic of having customers present came up and it seemed that the barriers to this were both finding customers and more importantly finding customers that were not afraid of public speaking that would be willing to present. I did a post about 2 years ago on my tips for overcoming public speaking as I was that same person, a customer who was an basically an introvert with no public speaking experience at all who conquered that fear. You can read my tips as I reflected on my experience in this post and while you are at it another related post is on 10 ways to ruin a presentation.

Apr 16 2016

Here’s how we can make VMUG events even better

I was hanging out with my good friend and OG ex-community guy for VMware John Troyer for a while last week at the Silicon Valley VMUG UserCon event, we were talking about VMUG events in general and he mentioned a recent blog post by Alastair Cooke entitled “Make VMUG great again“. Alastair’s post targets VMUG sponsors and how their breakout session presentations are often full blown marketing/sales pitches which is like kryptonite to VMUG attendees and not very well received.

I fully agree with his feedback, attendees at VMUG events are largely composed of the techy sysadmin types who are typically the decision influencers in their company when it comes to buying hardware and software. Trying to give a purely sales and marketing pitch to this type of crowd is like giving them Ambien, these events are intended to be as educational as possible to attendees and a sales pitch goes against the spirit of VMUGs.

One thing I don’t agree with though is the title of his post, VMUGs are great events already, like anything in life though there is always room for improvements. As someone who has been on both sides of the fence for almost 10 years as both a VMUG leader and sponsor as well as an attendee I thought I would give my 2 cents on how to make VMUG events better broken down by the role of each group at the event.

[Begin Update]

Before I do that one thing I would like to do is distinguish between VMUG UserCon’s and VMUG Local Group Meetings as this post is aimed mainly at UserCons although some of the same concepts apply (technical in nature).VMUG UserCon’s are not true VMUG events in the traditional nature of small groups, mostly users (no sponsors), technical audience and more frequently held. What UserCon’s are is just what the name implies, User Conferences, they are very similar to the VMworld event format and bear little resemblance to traditional User Group’s that were born in the 1970’s that you can read about here. With Local Group meetings you typically only have 1 sponsor that covers lunch costs, sometimes venue costs and they are run solely by the local VMUG Leaders and not the VMUG HQ. Local meetings are held more frequently (3-4 times a year), are smaller (25-150 people) then UserCon’s which are once a year and larger (350-1000) people.

[End Update] (another update at the end)

VMUG Sponsors

First off let’s look at the role of the sponsor, they are paying $6,000 – $10,000 to sponsor the event along with all the additional costs associated with executing the event such as staff travel, giveaways, etc. Without the sponsors there wouldn’t be VMUG events, in fact the quality of each VMUG event is driven by how many vendors sponsors it. The more sponsors there are the better the event will be as it provides a larger available budget for better food, amenities, keynote speakers and venues. Therefore it is in the best interest of the VMUG staff and leaders to make the sponsor experience as rewarding as possible to justify their ROI and keep them coming back to sponsor more events.

Recommendations:

If you have a speaking session at a VMUG event, craft your presentation to be both technical and educational. Try and talk about technology in general without getting too deep into your products. It’s OK to have your product in the presentation but do it in a subtle manner that is no way a hard sell sales pitch. Make it both interesting and educational so an attendee learns something about technology and your product. Here’s an example of a session from a recent VMUG webcast from Zerto: “Ransonware and storage: Are You Prepared to Pay a Cryptolocker Ransom?”. If I was a customer that sounds like a great, interesting topic that I would be excited to hear about.

Next make sure your have a tech marketing person build the content for the session and not a pure marketing person unless they are tech savvy. Now that you have a great presentation, make sure you don’t have a sales guy present it, have someone technical that can speak at that level and answer questions appropriately. In the above mentioned Zerto session it was deliver by a technical architect. I guarantee you will have much better attendance at your session if you do this, most attendees can easily sniff out sessions that sound like sales pitches and will avoid going to them. As a sponsor I can bet you would much rather have 40 people listening to your session instead of 2.

Talking products and making sales pitches is not completely off-limits at a VMUG, just do it at your booth instead of in your session. At the session encourage people to come by your booth, if you delivered a good session people will come. If you want some guidelines for what to do and not do when it comes to VMUG sessions, just follow the same ones that VMware recommends for VMworld sessions and you can’t go wrong. If you want a quick sanity check on your content, reach out to the VMUG leaders and staff to have them look it over. If you want an example of a session I presented last week at the Silicon Valley VMUG, it was basically an updated version of this session that I did at VMworld last year, very educational with minimal product mentions. If you get an attendees attention with a good session with minimal sales pitch I think it will pay off better for you and they will think more favorably of you.

VMUG Leaders

VMUG Leaders are local to a region/city and help organize the event and make decisions for executing the event. They are largely compromised of customers/end users and VARs as the VMUG staff doesn’t allow vendors to be VMUG Leaders. There role is mostly in the background as far as event planning goes as they work closely with the VMUG staff to plan and execute the event. The day of the event they become more visible often times delivering the welcome address in the morning and speaking to introduce keynote speakers and deliver the closing/recap of the event.

The VMUG Leaders are essentially the owners of the event for each city and have the responsibility to help ensure the event is a success by making key decisions such as approving vendor sessions. VMUG Leaders are volunteers and responsible for executing and planning both the smaller more frequent quarterly VMUG events and the larger UserCon yearly events. Generally VMUG Leaders take on the responsibility of being a leader as they are passionate about virtualization and want to share that with others. Most VMUG Leaders have a day job in addition to their duties associated with being a VMUG Leader.

Recommendations:

I know a lot of VMUG Leaders personally and I think I can say they all do a pretty good job and I don’t have much feedback for them. As a sponsor my one big recommendation is don’t schedule our sponsor sessions at the same time as the VMware sessions. I did a big post on that a while back so you can read in detail why that is a bad thing for sponsors when that happens. Another suggestion I might have is to try and stop by and introduce yourself to your sponsors, I think this would help to cultivate a relationship between leaders and sponsors and would be a good opportunity to gather feedback from the sponsor about the event. This might even help to ensure that the sponsor returns the following year. Finally VMUG Leaders don’t be afraid to push back on sponsors that have sessions that you deem as to much of a sales/marketing pitch. Work with the sponsor to deliver a presentation that is more in line with attendee expectations of being educational in nature.

VMUG Staff

The VMUG HQ was formed back in 2010 after VMware recognized a need to have a dedicated team to run these types of events. Prior to that VMware had a small crew that worked directly with VMUG leaders. The VMUG staff is a very hard-working group that has overall responsibility for planning and executing the event in each city. They go out and find the sponsors, manage event finances, find venues, arrange catering and much more. Without them the UserCon events really wouldn’t be possible as the events are large with complex logistics that is just way too much for VMUG Leaders to handle. As VMUGs have evolved beyond local periodic events this group is also responsible for the other activities such as virtual events, webinars and newsletters.

Recommendations:

As I attend many of these events in multiple cities a year I’ve gotten to know much of the staff pretty well and overall I can’t give them enough praise as they are very efficient at what they do and all the events are typically executed flawlessly. I got a chance to meet the new VMUG CEO, Brad Tompkins at the Silicon Valley VMUG and he seemed excited about his role and open to any suggestions for improvement. A few suggestions I might make for the VMUG Staff are first keep the leaders honest, by this I mean don’t be afraid to push back on things that you deem might not be in the sponsors best interest. On the flip side also keep the sponsors honest, also push back on sponsors for things that you deem might not be in the attendees best interest (i.e. sessions).

I’d suggest maybe a simple sponsor kit that includes a guidelines, video, checklists, FAQ and a Do’s and Don’ts for the event. I think many sponsors go into these events with no expectations or info on proper VMUG etiquette and a little guidance would go a long way to set expectations. Maybe highlight examples of good session abstracts. Also maybe make the session submission process a little more automated like the VMworld CFP is with a review process. I know scheduling everything throughout the day can be challenging but try and have 60 minute nothing but sponsor area time frame to give attendees more time with sponsors without distractions. Maybe have some type of Hall Crawl like they do at VMworld.

I really like the creative things that you have done with making the events a bit more fun and interactive, things like the special panels, demo areas, interactive vending machines, social media, etc. Keep it up as you are definitely making these events a lot more fun for both attendees and sponsors.

VMUG Attendees

The people who attend VMUGs are largely a pretty technical group, they are your sysadmin types that work hands-on with technology every day. This group is typically the decision influencer at most IT shops, so it’s important for sponsors to have staff that can speak tech to these people. Most of these people don’t get to attend VMworld so these VMUG UserCon’s are like VMworld to them. Attendance varies by regions with events as small as 350 people and others up to 1,000 depending on how many nearby big cities that the event can pull from. You might be surprised to learn that Indianapolis is the biggest VMUG event in the US, the reason is all about their location as they pull attendees from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.

In the latest VMUG sponsor prospectus some key facts about the attendee base are:

  • 112,000 VMUG members world-wide
  • 79% of their users are decision maker or decision influencers
  • 83% of their users think more positively about sponsors that participate in VMUGs
  • 89% of their users have been a VMware product user for more than 3 years
  • 55% of their users plan to make significant investments in vSphere

Recommendations:

First off, thank you for taking the time for attending these events, I hope you come away them from thinking they were worth your time and that you learned at least a few new things. I know a whole day away from your job can be tough some times, but please try and stay as long as you can to add more value to these events for the sponsors. I know the VMUG Staff does a good job with incentives for that such as awesome prizes at the end and sometimes beer. As a sponsor it’s discouraging to see the swag collector types, we love giving you stuff but would also love to have a brief conversation with you as well. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and engage with sponsors even if you’re the shy type, most sponsor I know of don’t bite. Also if there is something you don’t like or have any ideas for improving the events please give feedback to the event staff and also be sure and rate the sessions. If you’re attending a VMUG also make sure you download the VMUG app that has a lot of great info all in one place with all the up to the minute information about the event. Remember these events are all about you and I’m positive the leaders, staff and sponsors will do all they can to make the event more valuable for you.


 

I’ve always advocated at my company for VMUG sponsorship as I see the value in these events and it all has to do with getting in front of the attendees who are either your customers or potential customers. Even when one group wanted to pull out of these events as they were not seeing the value, I made the case for continued sponsoring them as long as we did it the right way. Doing that made all the difference in the world and we saw our ROI in these events dramatically improve. VMUG’s are great events, I think all sides can do a little better though and make them even greater and I hope some of my feedback here does just that. No matter what your role is at a VMUG event, feel free to reach out to me with questions, ideas, etc and I’ll pass them along to the appropriate people.

[Begin Update]

After this was posted their was some debate on social media on the true nature of VMUG events, mainly around going back to the origins of VMUGs and having customers/end users speak at the events. Why this is definitely a great idea, the reality is that it’s very hard to find customers that both want to talk and are comfortable with public speaking. This was confirmed by many who chimed in based on their experiences, they have tried to do this, mostly unsuccessfully. As most of the group is the techy/sysadmin types, this group tends to be just not comfortable speaking in larger group settings. I know based on my own experiences this is true as well, I’ve always struggled to find customers willing to do case studies and public speaking. I did however have one good success with this as we were able to get someone from the City of Phoenix Police Department to co-present at VMworld one year, he was a little nervous but did just fine.

I agree that this would be great to have at VMUG events, both Local Meetings and UserCon’s. I challenge the VMUG Staff to try and make this happen, it would be nice to have a User Track at the events that is compromised solely of user’s talking about real-life experiences and lessons learned. Again the reality is that it would be hard finding people in each city but it’s definitely worth a try as it would add even more value to the events. Also consider having a customer panel at the event and encouraging sponsors to engage with local customers to try and participate in their sponsor sessions. As many customers can be uncomfortable with public speaking also consider a mentoring program for them to help them acclimate to it. Anything that can be done to put the User back into the VMUG, not just as a attendee but also as a participant would be a good thing for all.

[End Update]

Apr 13 2016

VMworld Call For Papers extended

CFP-cropVMware hit the Snooze button and is giving you a bit more time to get those VMworld session submissions in, the deadline has moved from 4/12 to 4/15 at 11:50PM PST. It seems like every year even though you have a one month period to get them in, a lot of people procrastinate and wait until the last minute and then rush to get them in. Also note they have published the key dates around session submissions. which are listed below. Note June 14th is when you can expect to get those dreaded rejection emails. So what are you waiting for, get those submissions in, these extra few days allow you some more time to think up session ideas.

VMworld 2016 Content Key Dates (subject to change)

  • March 16 – Global Call for Papers Live
  • April 12 (15th now) – Global Call for Papers Closes
  • June 14 – Speaker Notifications (US and Europe)
  • June 14 – Speaker Resource Center – Live (US)
  • June 21 – Content Catalog – Live (US and Europe)
  • July 19 – Schedule Builder – Live (US)
  • July 12 – Speaker Resource Center – Live (Europe)
  • July 19 – Presentation First Drafts Due (US and Europe)
  • August 23 – Schedule Builder – Live (Europe)
  • August 3 – Final Presentations Due (US)
  • August 28 – September 1 VMworld 2016 (US)
  • September 28 – Final Presentations Due (Europe)
  • October 17 – October 20 VMworld 2016 (Europe)

Apr 09 2016

Your very last chance to nominate for Top vBlog categories and get your blog on the ballot

The vLaunchPad is completely up to date with all the new blog submissions that have come in the last few weeks, so if your blog is not listed there this is your very last chance to include it in the Top vBlog voting that starts soon. Use this form to get your blog added to the vLaunchPad.

Also if you haven’t nominated your own blog for the special voting categories this is your last chance for that, everything will be locked down by the end of next week so voting can begin. See this post for the category nomination form.

Apr 06 2016

What do Zerto and NASA have in common?

Answer: They’ll both be present at ZertoCon that is being held from May 23rd to May 25th in Boston, MA.

zertoconMore and more smaller technology companies are having their own user conferences which is a nice trend to see as they can often get drowned out in some of the larger conferences such as VMworld. I believe this is their inaugural conference so if you want to have a few days of deep diving on BC/DR with Zerto and also hear from a real-life NASA astronaut (Story Musgrave) and other great speakers then go sign-up.

It’s being held at the Boston Convention Center and features keynotes, session tracks, labs and of course the best part of these types of events, the networking with industry people. In addition they have a pretty kick ass band playing at their customer appreciation party, Lez Zeppelin. Even more cooler is their welcome reception on Monday will be held over at historic Fenway Park. So head on over to their event page and see for yourself what’s in store for you and get registered for a conference that promises to be out of this world, hurry up as early bird pricing ends 4/15.

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