Recently my family and I relocated to a different part of British Columbia so I could pursue a new career opportunity with more of a focus on Virtualization. The move as stressful as they usually are has gone off without many hitches which has been awesome, compared to past experiences. The unfortunate thing about moving is that all your stuff gets packed away, and for me that meant my lab was living in a shipping container in god knows where while we enjoyed the confines of the Accent Inn’s.
During this transition period I got pulled into this awesome initiative that VMware has going on right now called Cloud Credibility (www.cloudcredibility.com) I could spend a while talking about it but I’ll save that for another post. The jist of cloud cred though is to do challenges to see how you compare to your peers world wide, its a lot of fun and I highly recommend trying it out. Part of cloud cred is building some things in labs and playing with them, but that was problematic for me. I was trapped in the Accent Inn and my lab was somewhere between Prince George and Vancouver, no one could confirm its whereabouts but assured us it was all safe. So the search for alternatives began…
Enter VMware workstation, its nothing new but I’ve never really spent a lot of time with it. Mostly because I’ve always had bare metal gear that I would run ESXi on. Due to the above circumstances that wasn’t possible and all I had at my disposal was a laptop with a Core i5 Proc, 8 gb ram, a external usb drive and a bit of spare time. The cloud cred challenge I was working on was to build a Zimbra environment so the first step was to download Workstation (you can get a trial here http://mdb1.info/10dOMXj) and once I got workstation installed I downloaded a copy of ESXi (free download here http://mdb1.info/YiubTl) and created an ESXi VM inside of workstation. Its kind of funny running a hypervisor inside of a hypervisor, something like vCeption but it worked which was really cool. I gave the ESXi VM 6gb of ram and a few 100gb’s on the external USB and got to building out my Zimbra environment. Now with 6gb ram you can’t build much but it was enough for this lab. Inside of the ESXi environment I started off with a Server 2008R2 VM that I used as a Domain Controller and for DNS, once that guy was built it was time to get started on Zimbra.
For those not familiar with Zimbra it is VMwares alternative to exchange, and it is a pretty decent one to. We use Zimbra for the VMUG e-mail and I am really impressed with the web ui and performance of it. Anyways so I had to download a trial of Zimbra (you can get one here http://mdb1.info/XllAQo) and you’ll also need a flavor of enterprise Linux for Zimbra to live on, I went with Red Hat (free trial here http://mdb1.info/10dR9co) This is where things got a little interesting for me because I am not terribly familiar with Linux, I used to be a hard core suse geek back in 2000 but then somewhere along the line I fell to the dark side. I found the following blog posts really handy to get things going with red hat, I looked to this blog for help installing VMware Tools http://mdb1.info/14rJAnS and this one for installing Zimbra itself http://mdb1.info/YMH58O. After a few hours over a few days I managed to get a hypervisor inside of a hypervisor to run a couple of VM’s to score some sweet sweet cloud credibility and all without my massive bulky lab that kills my monthly powerbill. This experience has given me some food for thought on what I should do with my lab now that I have a chance to start fresh.
ESXi Inside of Workstation 9
Zimbra running inside of vCeption
At our first Prince George VMUG meeting our members requested that for the next meeting we dig into VDI a little bit more. So for our Q1 2013 meeting I put together a VDI lab powered by Nimble Storage and Lenovo. Nimble was our primary sponsor for the event and very graciously loaned us a CS220 Array to build some VDI desktops on and Lenovo sent up one of their new servers for us to play with.
The environment was pretty simple, we had an old Dell D620 laptop acting as the domain controller running Server 2008R2. The reason for this was to use the wireless nic in it to provide internet access to the rest of the lab as the venue only provided wireless access. We had an old Brocade gigabit switch for server networking and iSCSI traffic for the Nimble. The Nimble it self and the Lenovo server were also in the mix, there was also an old Cisco AP to provide wireless access to the lab environment.
We just downloaded a trial version of View from VMware and built up a small environment with 5 desktops for the VDI demo. The total build time was probably about 2 days. I would like to try to find a way to have a lab like this but more portable. I think the next crack I will take at this will be a laptop with 16gb or more of ram with maybe a small environment running in VMware Workstation. I’ve been playing with this a little bit for some other environments and have found it to work well. I’ll probably have a post about that coming up soon. But until then I’ve posted a few pictures below of what this quick and dirty lab looked like.
A couple of weeks ago I was surfing around the intertubes looking for MDM alternatives and came across Meraki’s Systems Manager and down the rabbit hole we go. I always knew that Meraki made cool wireless products and heard great things about them but in all honesty it had been quite some time since I paid any attention to them. What a surprise it was to discover that they had expanded and one of the products available was a cloud based MDM and the best part… its free! If you have a chance check out their website www.meraki.com
I made my way to http://dashboard.meraki.com signed up for a free account, followed the directions to get an iOS certificate and after about 15 minutes I had iPad and iPhone enrolled into the management environment. That is pretty awesome considering my past experience with other MDM’s has not been similar, you can also add Windows PC’s and Mac OSX clients and Android devices into the Systems Manager. They are also partners with Google so everything gets all mapped out which is also pretty cool, and Cisco just bought them which means they are totally doing something right.
So far the rabbit hole is looking pretty good but then it gets better. They are offering a free Meraki access point to qualifying IT professionals and all you have to do is attend a webinar. We all can make an hour in our day to learn something new and free swag is always a bonus I would highly recommend checking out their webinar portal to see if there is something of interest and register up. http://www.meraki.com/webinars and if you’re a qualifying IT pro you’ll get an MR12 like the guy down below (just not with the cool cut away view)
After signing up for the Systems Manager and attending the webinar I was contacted by one of Meraki’s Account Executives who has been extremely helpful to learn more about their products. One of my clients has been looking for a new router for some of their smaller sites and the MX60W looked like it would be a perfect fit. The MX60W is an SMB router suitable for sites with around 20 users and is all manged through the cloud which is awesome. http://www.meraki.com/products/appliances/mx60w Meraki has a really great trial program and after filling out some forms I had a demo unit at my door step.
One of the coolest things about Meraki’s could based System Manager is that you can pre-provision equipment and when it comes online it downloads the configuration you created automatically. This is a really neat feature especially if you are support remote offices because you can pre-provision gear including setting up site to site VPN connections without having to go to the clients site to configure things. I’ve attached a quick view of the Appliance Status below for you to check out.
I’ve just got it going this evening so I will write a follow-up post once I’ve had some time with the device. Keep posted for more info.
This is a bit of an old find that I am dredging up but figured it would be good to post anyways.
For the past several months I have been working on a VDI implementation at my workplace. So far it has been interesting and exciting but there have been a few stumbles along the way. One of them is what I would like to talk about today.
Trend Deep Security is the technology we chose to protect our VDI environment. It is one of the more comprehensive suites out there for virtualization and if you are working on any kind of virtualization initiative I would highly recommend checking it out here http://mdb1.info/13eQM4z
There was one snag though that was frustrating during our initial early production trials. After a few weeks the Deep Security appliances would die and stop protecting the environment. You could restart the appliances and then everything would be peachy for another week or so and then they would die again. We tried talking to support a few times and finally were connected with a guy that helped us figure out what the problem was.
Apparently there is a setting deep inside your vm host that needs tweaking if you are going to go down the Deep Security path. That setting is the Heap size related to the DVSA appliances. This setting through some sort of magic allows you to run a denser VM host while preventing the pesky disruptions of server appliances crashing or in worse cases the purple screen of death! For more information check out this Trend KB article http://mdb1.info/VNxxJP but please change the heap size to 512mb or the magic will not work correctly.
I was not happy with the options my hosting provider had for blogs so I have moved here. Will have some new stuff soon!