London VMUG Meet up – 26 January 2012

 

Welcome session attendance - Photo credit - Chris Kranz (@ckranz)

 

Today’s meetup was the first London VMUG that I have attended. In the past they have unfortunately landed up on days where work commitments took precedence. Running a few minutes late due to a long walk from Bank Underground Station to the venue, I arrived (to my luck) to find that the Introduction had also kicked off a few minutes late, setting most events forward fifteen minutes. I snuck in through a door near the back to listen to the welcome session.

 

First Sessions of the morning

 

Attendance was good from what I saw today – all the sessions were quite full and well attended. Symantec did an interesting presentation on ApplicationHA – a talk followed on by a live demo showcasing Application High Availability. The demo entailed bringing down the SQL Server Instance on a VM at first, allowing ApplicationHA to restart the service to sort it out again. This was followed on by another demo – deleting the entire Database and allowing ApplicationHA to pick up the problem and sort out SQL Server by leveraging Backup Exec to restore the Database. Symantec were also kind enough to offer up some NFR licenses for lab/testing use at the end of their presentation. Its a shame I didn’t get a chance to visit their stand during the break, as I was keen on taking a closer look at this in my own home lab environment.

 

Next up Chris Kranz and Alex Smith did an informative and interesting set of sessions entitled “Would you like fries with your VM?” and “DevOps & Service Management” respectively. They were interesting talks involving some interesting discussion around the traditional “IT Admin” role, compared with the “Virtual Admin” and “Cloud Admin”. Summing up – IT professionals should stay on top of their game and adapt to survive in this ever evolving industry! Alex also shared some interesting experiences and chatted about DevOps and Service Management along with a few other acronyms – determined to drill these into everyone’s head!

 

During the break I was able to meet up with Gregg Robertson and Jonathan Medd – there was some interesting chat in the short break, after which the next set of sessions began.

 

Midday Session

 

This was a set of sessions that conflicted for me – I was really keen on both. I have had a brief look at Auto Deploy before (whilst studying for VCP5), but I also really wanted to see the VMware View session (End User Computing : Today & Tomorrow – Simon Richardson). I ended up attending Alan Renouf and Max Daneri‘s “How to build 1000 hosts in 10 minutes with Auto Deploy” session – there were quite a few slides to go through, but a good overview of the PowerCLI cmdlets used for setting up Image Profiles (working with VIBs), Rule Sets and Auto Deploy in general was given. Max then handled a great demo showcasing Auto Deploy at work.

 

Post Lunch Sessions

 

I went to the “Stop the Virtualization Blame Game” session by Xangati (Ben Vaux) next. This was of interest to me, as a couple of weeks ago I deployed the free “one host” Xangati VI monitoring appliance in my lab at home. There were unfortunately a few issues with the projector in our room, but there was still a good talk about how the product works and some interesting questions were answered by the team. Xangati also had a demo set up in the main vendor / lunch area for live demos throughout the day. The product aims to give SysAdmin’s a “single pane of glass” view of the entire VI / VDI environment – where everything can be monitored and looked after. They monitor stats realtime and also offer a handy “record” feature which allows events / issues in environments to be captured, and replayed later on to see what went wrong. Interesting stuff, and I’ll definitely be playing with this product further in my home lab.

 

The next session I attended was the “Private vCloud Architecture Deep Dive” with Dave Hill and Aidan Dalgleish. This was an interesting and fairly in-depth session discussing the whole VMware ecosystem: vCloud Director 1.5, vShield, Chargeback etc etc. A “reference architecture” was presented on and discussed along with the three network pool methods and their various pros and cons (VLAN-backed, Port group-backed and vCloud Network Isolation Backed (VCNI)). I also wanted to attend Michael Poore’s session on Orchestration, however these two sessions conflicted and I unfortunately had to decide at the last minute as to which one to view!

 

The final session had me attending the Embotics lab – I had a quick try out of their V-Commander product to see what benefits it offered. I really wanted to see the Cisco UCS presentation so I did unfortunately miss this one. However I will definitely be catching up on this with the slides that will hopefully be made available soon. Gregg Robertson also did his VCP 5 Tips and Tricks presentation, which I hear went down well – I skipped this one as I was lucky enough to fit in an exam and get my VCP 5 done earlier on this month. Whilst on the topic of VCP’s Jonathan Medd surprised everyone as he casually snuck off during lunch to Global Knowledge to write his VCP 5 exam… and passed!

 

Ending off with vBeers just down the road, I managed to catch up and have some great conversation with a few other guys, including Gregg RobertsonJonathan MeddDarren Woollard, Jeremy Bowman, Michael Poore et-al (sorry to those whose names I omitted i.e. fogot!) All in all, a great day was had with some interesting content!

 

Edit – the slides are now up from the VMUG – they can be accessed here.

VCP5 Exam review / experience

Today I passed my VCP 5 exam – a month before the cut off date for getting it done without the need to participate in the usual compulsory classroom training! (For those already holding the VCP 4 certification). It seems like just about everyone is doing one of these exam experience posts, so I thought I would join in and provide my feedback on the exam. I have also had a few people asking about how it went and for some advice on how best to study for the VCP 5 so hopefully this will be help to some. Parts of this post may be repeated information, but I will also detail my specific study routine below which will hopefully be helpful.

 

Whenever possible, I referred to the following two excellent VCP 5 study / advice pages – they are a great starting point and give a good overview of what you need to know and what you need to cover:

 

 

Next up, I got up to speed with the new VMware vSphere 5 features by doing the following:

 

  • Upgraded my home vSphere 4.1 lab environment to vSphere 5 – if you don’t already have a lab, I wrote a (fairly lengthy) article last year about creating one for yourself using VMware Workstation over at Simple-Talk – Read more here. There are various improvements that could be made to this lab environment article, such as using the newer Workstation 8.0, linked clones, and creating some of your VMs such as AD / vCenter within your nested ESXi VMs, so if you do take a look, keep this in mind and take a look else where for newer versions of Lab setups using vSphere 5.
  • TrainSignal VCP 5 DVD course – I got one of these ordered in and I watched the entire 17 hours set. Whilst some of it was repeated information for me – (working day in and day out with vSphere 4.x), there were still tons of new things I learnt and of course they cover all of the new vSphere 5 features in some fairly decent detail which was what I was primarily after! It was also good to get a refresher on vDS networking as I don’t use that too often in my day to day duties. Elias and David do a great job of explaining each feature and going through hands on installations / configurations.
  • Lab work – I tried out all of the new features (except Auto Deploy) in my upgraded vSphere 5 lab environment at home. I still need to set up Auto Deploy to try it out for myself, but the TrainSignal DVD covered that for me, and I also read up about it in the official VMware documentation.
  • Duncan Epping & Frank Denneman’s VMware vSphere 5 Clustering Technical Deepdive book – I grabbed a copy on Kindle – this is a great resource to read up about the clustering features, and after reading through their “4.1 edition” whilst I was on holiday last year, I knew I was definitely going to be grabbing this latest refresh. I didn’t have time to read this through before my exam, but I did do a quick refresher on the new HA in vSphere 5 before the exam – it was very useful to know more about the inner workings of FDM and find out more about the new Master / Slave functionality of HA.

 

The important stuff that you need to know:

 

  • VCP 5 Blueprint – currently, the latest version of this document is 1.41 – I used this and made sure I was up to speed on every section by downloading and reading VMware documentation on each objective in the blueprint. I also read a few blogs who covered the objectives in the blueprint with summarised notes and these were helpful to recap with.

 

Practise questions / tests

 

  • Simon Long’s SLOG has some great practise questions to try out – I used these a couple of times to practise with – you won’t get these questions in the exam of course, but they are good to check that you know your stuff and practise with.
  • VMware Practise exam – this is the official VMware practise exam – I took it once I was happy I was pretty much up to speed with everything. The practise exam I took on the VMware site had 30 questions to do in around 45 minutes. Apparently if you get a full 100% you can’t take it again, so they recommend you purposely answer one question incorrectly to ensure you don’t throw away your chances of using it again. I did this the day before my exam to see how I was doing.

 

Final thoughts

 

Finally, I would agree with most other bloggers out there – the VCP 5 is a bit more challenging than the VCP 4 exam. I didn’t come across any configuration maximum questions myself, so this is good news, as I honestly thought they were a bit of a waste of time in the VCP 4 exam – they are simple facts that can easily be looked up in documentation – useful in some cases, but not in practise. The VCP 5 exam seemed to cover a good deal of troubleshooting scenarios which is what counts in my opinion, and seems more relevant! All in all, it was a challenging, yet satisfying exam!

 

Cosmosis (iOS) – updated to version 1.3

So heres an update that is slightly off my usual subject matter! I have been spending a little bit of time updating my 2D Space shmup game I have developed for iOS (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad). I  finished submitting the update to Apple on 04/08/2011, and this morning I saw it has now been approved, so it is ready to be downloaded / updated from the App Store.

 

Bonus level 2 added in version 1.3

 

Here is a list of the most significant new features in version 1.3.

 

– Unlocked all levels by default
– New (Second) Bonus Level added
– New enemy ship type added
– New enemy ship attack patterns (more challenging/interesting)
– New scrolling level select screen
– Main menu redesigned and new ambient music added for menu and in game
– OpenFeint updated
– New News menu option added for the latest news and announcements
– Game difficulty tweaked to make it slightly more challenging
– Bosses are a bit to tougher to fight now
– Survival mode difficulty tweaked
– New loading & credits screen
– App rating dialog that appears after a few days now works

 

So there is some new content as well as better difficulty and more challenging enemies to fight. I also added an interesting new feature – the News screen. This integrates with OpenFeint and pulls down and news / announcements I make on my developer control panel for OpenFeint into this custom designed (Cosmosis themed) News screen. It also updates the App’s badge icon according to the number of new (unread) news announcements and displays a small badge icon on the news menu in game. The main reason I developed this extra bit, is that I would like to be able to notify users of any future new releases (apps) I may release.

 

If you have any feedback or comments about Cosmosis, feel free to leave them below, or grab a copy and leave me a review on iTunes!

Hello PowerCLI

 

So today is the first time I am trying out PowerCLI for vSphere. Yes, I know I am late to the game in the VMware scene, but I hope to start learning more about PowerCLI and start automating some tasks that are currently being done manually where I work.

 

Here is my first try at connecting to my lab vCenter server 🙂

 

Pretty simple really, just as the banner text says, use:
Connect-VIServer servername and
Get-VM

to connect and get a list of VMs. I guess this is my “Hello World” start out with PowerCLI then. If anyone has any tips or quick and easy cmdlets to run in PowerCLI to get information back, please drop a comment with them below. I would also love to know how to iterate through a list of VMs and check whether they have snapshots or not! That would be a great start to what I am looking to achieve.

Cheers!

Now reading: Cocos2d for iPhone 0.99 Beginner’s Guide

I was recently offered a copy of Pablo Ruiz’s “Cocos2d for iPhone 0.99 Beginner’s Guide” eBook to read through and provide comments / feedback on – needless to say I was quite excited to get stuck in, however I am still on holiday in South Africa so for now I am just downloading the eBook and will save it for when I am back in the UK.

I actually can’t wait to have a read through. cocos2d is by far the most fun I have had programming with, and I’m sure this book will be a valuable asset.

You can grab a copy over at PacketPub if you are interested in learning about programming with (imo) the best 2D gaming engine for iOS. At the moment it is going on special for around £25.00 which is not bad at all for a guide encompassing a lot of what cocos2d has to offer.

Sneak peek: New game in development for iPhone / iPod Touch

So I thought I would do a post where I can post updates as I make progress on this new game I am developing. The platform is of course the iPhone / iPod touch. That is all versions from the first iPhones up to the new iPhone 4. I may even do an iPad version later. I have really been putting some effort into learning more about OpenGL and more specifically the cocos2d engine. By starting this game I have learnt tons about particle effects, sprites and game logic. I am even having to dust out the cobwebs in my brain when it comes to mathematics! The shooting and accelerometer movement algorithms in this game took some effort to get right! Note that all graphics and code are original and done myself (i.e. all game content is self-made!) My graphic design abilities have definitely helped with regard to the making of my ship, enemy, back drop and other game graphics. I’ll post further updates as I go along. The name is going to stay secret till its released though 🙂

This is a top-down, accelerometer controlled space shooter, with fluid 60fps animation and great effects. Anyway, here are a few screenshots of what I have so far. Note that any text you see is not final and just there for testing purposes for now. The enemy ship and player graphics are also going to be refined before I submit this.

Note the Battlestar reference in my last screenshot 😀 Anyway, if you have any ideas or questions, feel free to post them below.