Monthly Archive: April 2016

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

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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
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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.

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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]

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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)
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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.

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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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Apr 04 2016

Nominations for the 2016 Top vBlog voting categories are now open!

vsphere-land-top-vblog2016-logoJust like prior years in addition to the traditional top 50 voting I’m opening it up to allow voting in specific categories as well to help distinguish certain types of blogs. To do this I have created a form to allow you to nominate your blog or website for one of the categories that I have defined if your blog fits one or more of the categories, if it does not then don’t nominate it as all blogs on the vLaunchpad will automatically be included in the general top blog voting.

This form is not the general voting poll for the top VMware/virtualization blogs, this form is only to nominate your blog for certain categories if it fits. Once the nominations are collected I will open the polls for voting for the top blogs where voters will be able to rate their top 10 blogs and also vote in each of the categories.

You should only nominate your own blog/website, these nominations will be used to populate the category choices when voting opens. If your blog doesn’t fit one of these categories then do not nominate it, all blogs on the vLaunchPad will automatically be included in the general top blog voting. If your blog is not currently listed on the vLaunchPad use this form to let me know (I still have some recent submissions that I am adding to it).

The criteria for the categories to see if your blog qualifies for them are as follows:

  • Best New Blog – Blog must have been started in 2015
  • Best Storage Blog – Must have greater than 50% posts as storage related
  • Best Independent Blog – Must not work for VMware or a Technology Partner (i.e. EMC, Dell, IBM, Unitrends, etc.), basically this means customers, resellers and integrators only.
  • Best Scripting Blog – Must have greater than 50% posts as scripting related
  • Best VDI Blog – Must have greater than 50% posts as VDI related
  • Best Podcast – Easy one, you must have a podcast
  • Best Female Blogger – Special recognition for women in tech, must be a female blogger

No Fields Found.
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