May 31 2017

Voting now open for Top vBlog 2017!

After a huge amount of effort finding and migrating to a new survey platform (and briefly breaking it with the sheer size of this survey), voting for Top vBlog 2017 is now open! The number of blogs devoted to VMware and virtualization continues to stay at an amazingly high level, this year there are almost 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 vBlogs for 2017. Last year over 1,600 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:

  • Again this year you can pick 12 of your favorite blogs and then rank them in your order of preference. 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 with the current top 100 blogs listed first with their current ranking and the rest of the blogs listed below them alphabetically. So please go through the whole list when making your choices.
  • Note that blogs that did not have at least 10 posts in 2016 are not eligible to participate and not listed (Alan Renouf #9 was one of those). Also note that Duncan Epping (Yellow Bricks) #1 and Frank Denneman #4 chose not to participate this year which should make for a whole different top 10.
  • 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 6/30, afterwards the results will be determined and announced on a special live podcast with myself, John Troyer and a special guest from Turbonomic.
  • 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.

New this year bloggers who make the Top 50 will get a nice commemorative pin that they can wear anywhere to proudly display their accomplishment. The pin will be fairly similar to the coin designs of past but is obviously one-sided as it is meant to be worn on clothing.

Of course all this is made possible by Turbonomic who is the official sponsor for Top vBlog 2017!

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.


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May 18 2017

Top vBlog 2017 – slight delay but still coming soon

I wrote in my last post that voting for Top vBlog 2017 would be kicking off this week but I have a slight delay as I work to find a new survey tool that can meet my requirements. The survey tool I had used for years, SurveyGizmo worked great for me but they recently changed their plan pricing and it would of cost me 10x more than usual as the features I need are in their most expensive plan and you can no longer buy it on a monthly basis. I thought I had found a replacement with SurveyMonkey but after signing up for a year plan and trying to setup my Top vBlog survey that’s when things quickly fell apart.

SurveyMonkey did support the one must have feature for me, piping between questions, many survey tools do not support this. This is needed so after someone selects their 12 favorite blogs I can pipe them to the next question so they can rank therm. However, many of the other features that I used with SurveyGizmo weren’t there on SurveyMonkey, I couldn’t bulk import html answers, didn’t allow for indicating maximum selection of multiple entries (you could select more and it gave a vague error), most of these weren’t ideal but I could work around, but the big kicker for me they had a max limit on their answers at 200, we usually have way more blogs than that participating. Overall I found there survey tool a bit difficult to use and lacking so I requested a refund and continued to search for another tool.

After looking at dozens of survey tools, requesting trials and asking questions I think I finally found one, QuestionPro. After talking to their support it looks like their Corporate plan will do everything I need, I haven’t set it up yet so I have my fingers crossed, so after a slight delay I should hopefully have the voting open next week. Stay tuned and get ready.

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May 05 2017

Introducing Top vBlog 2017

It’s that time of year again, well a little later then usual, more on that later. My annual Top vBlog contest will be kicking off in about a week and anyone can vote on their favorite VMware & virtualization blogs. I first want to introduce our awesome official sponsor of Top vBlog 2017 which is Turbonomic again this year. If you can take a moment and give them some love, follow them on Twitter, check out their Cloud Native edition and download a free trial to see what you are missing out on.

We’re running a bit later then usual this year, a big reason for that is the survey company that I have used every year, SurveyGizmo, changed their rate plans and I can no longer purchase it on a monthly basis and it would of cost me about 10x more than before. I’ve evaluated a whole bunch of options including buying professional plugins and looking at other survey companies but almost all of the plug-ins that I looked at are too basic and wouldn’t meet my needs. I’ve finally chosen SurveyMonkey to host it going forward, I still have to buy it on an annual basis but the cost was a lot cheaper and included all the advanced options like piping and drag/sort that I need.

With a new survey company though I have to start from scratch as all my saved forms and data were at SurveyGizmo. I’ll be building out the forms next week and should launch the public voting shortly afterwards. I already have opened the category nominations a few weeks ago, I built that out using forms on my own site, so if you haven’t nominated your blog for certain categories that it might fit in you still have a few days left to do so. So the tentative key dates are voting will be from 5/12 – 6/2 and then the live results show will tentatively be the week of 6/19, that could change though based on what happens with my daughter’s surgery which is the week prior to that.

Now for some changes this year, I wanted to add other factors into the outcome beyond just public voting, that included private judging, # of posts published and Google PageSpeed scores. I didn’t have time to put together the private judging this year so the total points that a blog can accumulate will be based on 3 factors:

  • Public voting – 80% – total points based on how many people voted for you and how they ranked you
  • # of posts published – 10% – points awarded for how many posts you had in 2016, more posts = more points, aggregators excluded
  • Google PageSpeed score – 10% – points awarded for how well your blog is designed and how efficient it is which makes for a better experience for readers, the better you score the more points awarded

You can read more on this in this post. These factors combined make up the 100% of total points a blog can score and determines how you end up ranked in the final results. Some other changes and rules this year:

  • Again this year you can pick 12 of your favorite blogs (instead of 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.
  • Again this last year there is again a minimum blog post requirement to be eligible for Top vBlog voting, any blog that did not have at least 10 blog posts in 2016 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.
  • Duncan Epping and Frank Denneman are stepping down this year, they have both been in the top 10 for many years and have decided to not participate this year. They still support the voting and this will make room for some new people in the Top 10 and in particular the #1 spot.
  • We’ll be doing a special commemorative lapel pin this year, I always liked the coin but it limits how you can display it in public. A pin will be fairly similar to a coin, just one sided and you can wear it anywhere including at events like VMworld. It will be color with different metal types (gold/silver/copper) about 1.5″ in size and have a magnetic back for attaching so you don’t have to poke holes in your shirts.

So stay tuned, Top vBlog 2017 will be starting very soon!

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Apr 28 2017

Help send daddy’s little girl to space

My 12 year old daughter Sophia is facing a pretty difficult surgery to straighten her spine and I’d like to surprise her with a trip to NASA and Epcot before she has to endure surgery and a long recovery. Last year we were referred to Children’s Hospital to have her examined and x-rayed as her primary care physician said she has scoliosis. At that time she had about a 50 degree curve in her spine and just at the point where surgery is usually considered. Bracing to try and correct it isn’t an option once a curve is that high so we decided to monitor it to see how it progressed as I really didn’t want to put her through the surgery and all the potential complications that can come with it.

Recently we took her back for another evaluation and it has pretty rapidly progressed to over 90 degrees and surgery is highly recommended as it could start to impact her health. The surgery is long and difficult and involves inserting screws all down the spine and then threading a rod through them to bring the spine straighter and keep it from curving again. She’ll be in the hospital for about a week and then it takes about 2 months to recover from it and heal which will limit her and put a damper on most of her summer.  She has been brave about it and already endured a 2 hour MRI but I’m a nervous wreck as I pray for the best possible outcome but really fear the worst. One small comfort for me is knowing that the doctor who will be performing the surgery is considered one of the best pediatric orthopedic surgeons in the country.

Before she endures the difficult surgery and a painful recovery in early June I’d like to give her a trip that she’ll always remember and fulfill one of her passions which is outer space. Sophia is the sweetest and kindest little girl you’d ever meet and has always been a science geek and it’s her goal in life to one day work for NASA. She’s been talking about that for years and I’d love for her to be able to visit the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and then go to Epcot Center and explore and geek out. Unfortunately as this is a sudden and unexpected trip and due to some unexpected recent major expenses I find myself not able to cover this.

I really have never asked anyone for help before and I find myself in the uncomfortable position of reaching out to the community for assistance to help send my little girl to space and give her a week of fun before she has to endure the surgery. I’d also like to try and give her room a space themed makeover while she is in the hospital so she comes back to a geeky environment to recover in. It’s going to be hard for me to enjoy anything until this is over and I know she has made it through it OK but I know she would love it and it would be one small step to bring her closer to her dream of working at NASA someday. If you find it in your hearts to help out I would appreciate it more then you could know and more importantly I know Sophia would too.

You can donate at this GoFundMe page, thank you and god bless.

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Apr 24 2017

Latest PowerCLI release now supports VVol replication test failover

The ability to do array based replication of VVols via SPBM was introduced in vSphere 6.5 but it came with a catch. That catch is while you can automate VVol replication with SPBM, there is no client side interface to perform any type of failover or failback operations like you have with SRM. To do those types of operations you have to manually script those actions using PowerCLI.

Back in November I wrote about the new PowerCLI cmdlets that support VVol replication operations, this provides a way to manage VVol replication until VMware provides a more elegant solution using vRealize Orchestrator/Automation or SRM. While the PowerCLI cmdlets provided the means to do all the basic operations that you might have to do with replication it was missing a very important function that is a must have for most, the ability to perform a test failover.

That missing function to do a test failover is now part of the recently released new version of PowerCLI (6.5.1 R2). So if you’re lucky enough to have a array that supports VVol replication, you should have everything you need now to use it effectively. With the recent HPE acquisition of Nimble Storage there really is only one vendor that supports VVol replication at the moment as 3PAR & Nimble are the only ones listed in the VVol HCL for array based replication.

The new PowerCLI cmdlets to support VVol replication only are listed below:

  • Start-SpbmReplicationPromote – This cmdlet promotes a target replication group from InTest to FailedOver state.
  • Start-SpbmReplicationTestFailover – This cmdlet performs a test failover of a target replication group. If the operation succeeds, the replication state of the replication group becomes InTest.
  • Stop-SpbmReplicationTestFailover – This cmdlet stops the test failover on the specified replication groups and tries to perform a cleanup on the target site. After successful completion the replication group state returns to Target.

So what actually happens when you do a VVol test failover? When VVols are replicated to another array, they remain hidden to vSphere on the target array. All the VVols of a VM (except the swap VVol) must be replicated to the target array this includes the config VVol, data VVols (disk and snapshots) and other metadata. When you perform a test failover you are not doing an actual failover, replication continues and the primary site VVols and secondary site VVols are not impacted.

What happens when a test failover is initiated at the target site using the Start-SpbmReplicationTestFailover command is that virtual copies of the replicated VVols on the target array are created and vSphere performs a fix-up on them so they are in a usable state.The fix-up operation updates the VM config to reflect the new VVol IDs and storage container information. Those newly created copies are then exposed to vSphere so you can interact with them, power up VMs and test them to make sure the VMs are recoverable.

Once you are finished you run the Stop-SpbmReplicationTestFailover command which will tell the VASA Provider to stop the test and clean up all the VVols that were created as part of the test. The Start-SpbmReplicationPromote can also be used if for some reason you want to make the test permanent and have the VM’s at the target site be actually failed over and not just a test.

Now that the ability to perform a test failover is part of PowerCLI, VVol replication is much more usable as who would want to replicate data to another array and just hope things work without being able to actually verify it. I expect the support around these operations will continue to mature in vSphere and I wouldn’t be surprised if VMware added VVol replication support to SRM or vRealize Orchestrator/Automation at some point. You can read more about how to use these new PowerCLI cmdlets in the VMware documentation and look for a detailed white paper on using VVol replication coming from HPE very soon.

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Apr 21 2017

Nominations for the 2017 Top vBlog voting categories are now open!

Just 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.

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

  • Favorite New Blog – Blog must have been started in 2016
  • Favorite Storage Blog – Must have greater than 50% posts as storage related
  • Favorite Independent Blogger – Must not work for VMware or a Technology Partner (i.e. EMC, Dell, IBM, Unitrends, etc.), basically this means customers, resellers and integrators only.
  • Favorite Scripting/Automation Blog – Must have greater than 50% posts as scripting/automation related
  • Favorite Non-English Blog – Must be primarily published in a non-English language
  • Favorite Podcast – Easy one, you must have a podcast
  • Favorite Female Blogger – Special recognition for women in tech, must be a female blogger
  • Favorite News/Information Site – Any site that primarily publishes news and information and is not really a blog

Again, only nominate your own blog/website!

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Apr 19 2017

Don’t miss the big Boston I.T. party going on May 22nd-24th

Zerto is holding their 2nd annual ZertoCON event in Boston beginning on May 22nd and you’re invited. This 3 day event features keynotes, sessions, labs, networking and of course food and fun. If you remember from VMworld last year, Zerto knows how to throw a heck of a party as their ThunDRstruck party was a huge hit. Ironically their customer appreciation event for ZertoCon will also be held at the House of Blues, albeit the Boston location which should be epic fun.

You might be thinking to yourself, why should I go to ZertoCON? Well here’s a few good reasons why:

  • Focused Content: for CIOs, system admins, cloud strategists – anyone and everyone in IT looking for a simple, secure on-ramp to the cloud.
  • Thought Leadership: gain insight from Zerto’s leadership and industry experts on leveraging the cloud to help you build a more resilient IT infrastructure
  • Hands-on Learning: get up close and personal with Zerto’s revolutionary, award-winning product in labs, demos and Q&A sessions
  • Expanded Zerto Certifications: now including Zerto Professional Certification advanced-level, Azure, AWS, Cloud and Sales
  • Unparalleled Networking: meet, greet, and collaborate with the most advanced IT/Cloud audiences in the industry
  • Epic Zerto Parties: everyone knows there ain’t no party like a Zerto party — and this year’s will be one for the history books!

Want to see what you are missing out on if you don’t go, check out the highlights from last year’s ZertoCON. And as a special incentive you can get 30% off the list price of tickets by using registration code ZBLOG17. Be sure and put in the “How did you hear about ZertoCON?” field when registering. So go register and get ready for a great 3 days of learning, networking and fun!

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Apr 17 2017

Last call for blogs before Top vBlog 2017 begins

My vLaunchPad site which is the source for blog voting is completely up to date with all the latest edits and additions. If your blog isn’t listed there this is your last chance to get it added by filling out this form. In a few days I’ll open up a special form for category nominations so you can nominate your blog for special categories which are listed below.

  • Favorite Storage Blog
  • Favorite Independent Blogger
  • Favorite Podcast
  • Favorite Female Blogger
  • Favorite Non-English Blog
  • Favorite New Blog
  • Favorite Scripting/Automation Blog
  • Favorite News/Information Site
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