Vote for my PuppetLabs entry

It’s not often that I push for votes or request votes for anything, but I am keen to win this one!

PuppetLabs are doing a competition where you submit GIF animations depicting an IT “horror story” with humor. My entry is below and I would love if you could check it out and hit the Vote button just below my entry GIF on the link to follow…


Working with the vCenter Server Simulator 5.5 – configuring custom ESXi hosts

Working with VCSIM (vCenter Server Simulator)


William Lam has done some excellent blog posts on using the simulator included with the VCSA (vCenter Server Appliance), to setup a simulated vSphere environment. Just the other day at VMworld Europe, he presented a session for vBrownBag entitled “NotSupported Tips/Tricks for vSphere 5.5“. In this session he introduced the new simulator, he dubs “VCSIM 2.0”, which is the latest iteration included with the VCSA 5.5 appliance.

I had previously had a brief look at the VCSIM included with 5.1, but after seeing its limited functionality, did not pursue its use for development testing. However, after learning about the features introduced in VCSIM “2.0”, I just had to take a further look…

To see how to setup and start VCSIM, have a read of Will’s blog post here. However, at a high level, this is what you need to do to start the simulator with defaults:

  • Deploy and fully configure the VCSA 5.5 appliance. Make sure DNS (forward and reverse) is working and the embedded database is properly configured, otherwise the vpxa service will have trouble intialising
  • Ensure you have no issues with the embedded DB being reset (i.e. don’t do this on a production VCSA!)
  • SSH in to the appliance
  • issue command:Β vmware-vcsim-start default


Customising the default VCSIM ESXi host model


Today, I needed to replicate a certain condition in our lab environment. Specifically, I needed the ESXi hosts to have 32 CPU cores. By default the ESXi hosts that are simulated have 8 cores. I did a bit of digging around in theΒ /etc/vmware-vpx/vcsim/model folder and figured out which files were referenced when launching the simulator with the default option. By default, the host model in the ESX50 folder is used, so naturally, in order to configure custom ESXi hosts, we need to edit the files within this folder.

Initially, I found one file, “HostHardwareInfo.xml” and changed the CPU core count value to 32. This appeared to work – starting up the sim, and looking at the Web Client, I saw that the simulated hosts were now showing 32 CPU cores. I also changed the RAM up to 32GB (from the default of 16) just to test another option, and this was also showing up. However, upon loading up the MOB (Managed Object Browser), and navigating to the these hosts, I saw that the properties under the host summary->config->hardware were telling another story – they were still set to 8 cores and 16GB RAM. A little more digging revealed that another file, “HostListSummary.xml” also needed to be updated.

So in order to setup your custom ESXi host models for the default VCSIM profile, make sure you update both of these files.

The files to update your default ESXi model
The files to update your default ESXi model


Here is the small change I made to increase the Host core count to 32 cores.


And the data reflected in the MOB:

ESXi Host Hardware Summary


Changes as seen in the vSphere Web Client:

vSphere Web Client Host Hardware Summary

Make sure you backup these files before changing them, so that you can roll back if you need to. There are other ways of creating your own profiles for the simulator, but I could not find any documentation on how to create custom hosts. The only bits I could find were relating to creating your own datastores. You can also use the default profile template to create your own profile in it’s entirety, and this is a better long term solution, however to get things up and running quickly with the default profile, the above works nicely.

Note that all properties and methods pertaining to each managed object found in the API appear to be set up and created when using the VCSIM, so this makes a great development/testing/lab tool. Kudos to VMware for releasing this with the VCSA, and thanks to William Lam for pointing it out and blogging about it!

VMworld Europe 2013 – PowerCLI Best Practices – A Deep Dive session

PowerCLI at VMworld


Alan Renouf and Luc Dekens led a more advanced PowerCLI session first thing on Thursday morning. There was a good turn up, even after the VMworld Party the night before. This session was of more interest to me, covering off the more advanced features of PowerShell and PowerCLI.

Some of the content I found of interest was:

  • Event filtering with PowerCLI and the handy GUI/utility Alan/Luc have made to help navigate the events objects. (Event objects in the vSphere API start off on a base object “Event” type, with different derivatives that inherit from this base type for different kinds of events). Interesting for me, as I have actually written an iPhone (iOS) application that uses the VMware SDK to filter out and display information about different kinds of events from your vSphere infrastructure.
  • VMware Fling called “Web Commander” – this is a web application which appears to be running off PHP as far as I could tell. It gives end users the ability to easily call various PowerShell / PowerCLI scripts from a UI – which is great for operators, or those that are less comfortable playing with a shell πŸ™‚ I can see a good use case for this in just about any environment. It allows users to call scripts and use textboxes to pass parameters over to your scripts.
  • PowerShell remoting and PSSession creation/disconnection and reconnection to help improve execution times for scripts. Luc showed a nice way to setup a remote machine which can initialise PSSessions, and allow them to be reconnected at a later stage.
  • New vSAN cmdlets coming out with the newer PowerCLI iterations

You can find more information about the session from Luc and Alan’s personal blogs: and

VMworld Europe 2013 Day 2 and the VMworld Party

Sessions summary


Here is a list of sessions I managed to attend on Wednesday:

  • Getting started with Horizon Workspace: Use cases and Configuration
  • Demystifying VMware Mirage: Tips and Tricks for Success

Horizon Workspace is really quite well featured, and provides a centralised location for the workforce to access all the apps, desktops and data that is relevant to their role in the company. VMware use this internally, and it is a great example of how one can mobilise a large workforce.

The Mirage session felt quite lengthy, but it did have a wealth of information and best practices tips that were discussed. The session did start to feel a little bit tedious toward the end, but that was mainly due to the many slides of tips & tricks. Perhaps a slightly higher level look at the best practices would have suited the session time better. However, anyone who attended should now have a very good idea of how to approach a Mirage deployment from the start to the finish.


Vendor time / Solutions Exchange

I had a good wander around the solutions exchange and chatted with various vendors. Some of the interesting areas I looked at were:

  • Nutanix
  • Simplivity
  • PernixData
  • nVidia
  • PuppetLabs
  • Cisco
  • VCE

I must say thanks to Simplivity and Nutanix for their vExpert gifts – I collected an awesome Raspberry Pi, and vExpert Beer glass from both πŸ™‚


Hands on Labs

I got some more time on the HOLs section and managed to do some more PuppetLabs modules. This is a great framework/product and I’ll definitely be looking into it further in the future. It was also good to catch up with Steven Thwaites at the PuppetLabs stand – previously known from Xsigo, and have a chat with him around all the awesome PuppetLabs framework and functionality.



Bloggers / Community lounge

I spent a bit of time early morning catching up with other bloggers and networking. I had a good chat with Erik Bussink, and we also had a bit of a look at some troubleshooting his vMetrics plugin he grabbed from this blog which was having trouble connecting to WordPress. Incidentally, he has some awesome information about Infiniband and using it in your lab environment with ESXi – go check out his blog for more info if you are interested!


VMworld Party

Hanging around after the main conference event until 7pm, meant we could jump straight across to the VMworld party. The event was put together well, with some impressive layouts.

In the center area was a large roller disco, with the main stage up front hosting two or three acts throughout the evening. Food and drinks were plentiful and there were various arcade games scattered around the area. I had to fire up some old school Street Fighter, so we had a few vs. games of that among others.

Left to right: Darren Woollard, Michael Poore, Gregg Robertson, Paul, Daragh, Sean Duffy, MrX?, Ather Beg, Curtis Brown
Left to right: Darren Woollard, Michael Poore, Gregg Robertson, Paul, Daragh, Sean Duffy, MrX?, Ather Beg, Curtis Brown
Roller disco
Roller disco

VMworld 2013 Party

Taio Cruz - not my first choice in music, but great to have a live act none the less :)
Taio Cruz – not my first choice in music, but great to have a live act none the less πŸ™‚

VMworld 2013 Party

VMworld 2013 Party
Aliens on stilts walking around the party

Win a copy of VMware Workstation – No experience necessary e-book

A short while back I provided assistance with technical reviewing and feedback while this book was in development. Packt Publishing are kindly giving away 2 copies of the eBook to my Twitter followers. The only condition required is to sell your soul to the devil and and retweet this tweet of mine: The tweet

Otherwise you can check out the book (aimed at those starting out with VMware Workstation) over here:

VMworld Europe 2013 Day 1 and the vExpert / VCDX Reception

General session and keynote


Lasers, lights, and fog aside, there were some interesting announcements made at the opening keynote.

  • VMware acquires Desktone, and will offer DaaS in their vCHS offering.
  • vCHS spreading to the European datacenter region with a new location opening soon in the UK
  • VMware NSX officially launched now as a result of the collaboration of work between VMware and their acquisition of Nicira a while back. Number of Virtual Ports now exceeding number of Physical according to their slide. Not surprisingly, Cisco did not feature as a partner on the list of logos in the slide deck. (As pointed out to me by colleague Curtis Brown)

VMworld Keynote

Sessions summary


Here is a list of sessions I managed to attend on Tuesday:

  • General session as per above
  • vSphere UI Platform Best Practises: Putting the Web Client SDK into Action
  • Deep dive into vSphere Log Management with vCenter Log Insight
  • Automating the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC): How do I get started?
  • William Lam’s “Not Supported” vBrownBag session at the community lounge

The session on the Web Client SDK was interesting for me, as I have recently started looking into what would be involved with web client plugin development. Some good advice was given out, and we got to see the road map ahead, where predictably, Flex is being cast out as Adobe are dropping support, and HTML5 will be taking its place with the vSphere web client. VMware plan to release “HTML Bridge” as private beta in November, which will help bridge the gap, and allow developers to start implementing their UI fully in HTML, or via a combination of Flex and HTML for the time being. The middle tier and back end systems for plugins will still be developed as they have been, so nothing is planned to change here.

The vCenter Log Insight session was well presented by Simon Flanders, and was interesting enough to get a good idea as to what the product does. It does seem fairly straight forward to use though, so I am not sure I would have called it a deep dive myself, apart from the delve into the architecture of the product, which was quite interesting to see how logs were dealt with in a circular fashion, or when archiving was implemented.

Automating the SDDC: How do I get started – this session was nicely presented, and provided me with a little bit of interesting detail on vCAC and vCO, however the PowerCLI content was very high level – as the title of the session would indicate, so this content was less relevant for me. I am however looking forward to the PowerCLI deep dive session on Thursday which should be far more applicable!

Lastly, I attended William Lam’s session “Not supported” session at the vBrownBag area, which was also live streamed. Two interesting things came up here which will be really useful for my role at Xtravirt:

  • VCSIM “2.0” released with vSphere 5.5. This is the vCenter Simulator, and the new iteration allows for configurations to be saved and restored, along with some new customisation functionality. Immensely useful for a development environment! Previously, the older VCSIM did not allow for some of this functionality, therefore was of less use to me
  • VMware Tools has been implemented for virtual ESXi hosts by a member of the VMware enginneering team – William showed us a quick look at this – it is available as a VIB and can be incorporated into ESXi image builds. Great news for those wanting tighter integration and ease of use in managing nested or virtual ESXi hosts.
William Lam presents his Not Supported session for vBrownBag


With things closing off, I headed back to the hotel for a quick 30 minute break, and then set off for dinner in the city with colleagues Ather Beg and Curtis Brown. We chose the same location as the vExpert / VCDX reception so that we could cross over straight to that after our meal and meet colleagues Gregg Robertson, Darren Woollard and Michael Poore. Here I met up with tons of contacts I knew via Twitter, but had never met in person before, including but not limited to: Erik Bussink, Andrew Mauro, Lee Dilworth.