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3 Generations of My Homelabs
Posted by Askar Kopbayev on August 15, 2017
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Sooner or later every single IT guy comes to the idea of having some lab. There are a million reasons why you would need a lab: learning new technologies, improving skills, trying crazy ideas you would never dare to try in the production network, you name it. Even though it is a work-related activity for most home labbers this is just another hobby for many of us.  That’s why people spend so many hours of their personal time building the homelab, investing significant funds into new hardware, thoroughly planning its setup, looking for a help in online communities or sharing their experience to help others. There is a whole universe of home labbers and I am happy to be part of this community.

In this post, I would like to share my experience with 3 generations of home labs I have had so far and the thoughts about next generation.

high-level network diagram

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VMware vCenter Server Appliance Homelab tips
Posted by Vladan Seget on June 15, 2017
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Many IT administrators or virtualization guys runs their homelabs at home. It is a good way to learn new technologies, be able to break things in a lab to get stronger skills.

It is sometimes a challenge, to squeeze as much RAM as possible from it. The main challenge is always a memory utilization. VMware VMs are getting memory hungry all the time and they are not “optimized” for Homelab use, but rather for production environments. Yes, it is the main purpose of those VMs after all.

One of the large VMs, but most critical, is VMware vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA). This product is becoming very popular within VMware communities and it is very easy to setup. Today we will have a look if we can do some optimizations and some “tweaks” to make it less memory hungry.

Set service startup manual

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Design a ROBO infrastructure. Part 4: HCI solutions
Posted by Andrea Mauro on June 7, 2017
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2-nodes hyperconverged solution

As written in the previous post, for ROBO scenario the most interesting HCI (Hyper-Converged Infrastructure) configuration is a two nodes configuration, considering that two nodes could be enough to run dozen VMs (or also more).

For this reason, not all hyperconverged solutions could be suitable for this case (for example Nutanix or Simplivity need at least 3 nodes). And is not simple scale down an enterprise solution to a small size, due to the architecture constraints.

Actually, there are some interesting products specific for HCI in ROBO scenario:

  • VMware Virtual SAN in a 2 nodes clusters
  • StarWind Virtual Storage Appliance
  • StorMagic SvSAN

StarWind Virtual SAN overall architecture

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StarWind Virtual Storage Appliance Linux edition
Posted by Alex Bykovskyi on May 5, 2017
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Introduction

This article describes the new StarWind Virtual Storage Appliance, which was released on 26th of April. StarWind has always been a Windows native solution. However, due to market trends and the huge interest of our customers, we have decided to work in Linux direction. The main goal of the article is to show what StarWind VSA can do for clients and how you can work with it.

StarWind Linux-based VSA

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VMware’s Photon and containers in VMware
Posted by Gary Williams on April 12, 2017
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The past month has been categorized as something of a performance and upgrades challenge as one of the constant calls I hear is “application X is going to slow”, of course, a month ago it was fine but today it isn’t and normally this is just down to increasing load.
One of the common fixes for increasing load is to add more vCPU and RAM but often that can cause its own set of problems especially when NUMA boundaries are crossed and when vCPU contention pushes things a little too far.
The second part of the challenge is the upgrade challenge where various applications need upgrading but there are dependency chains to take into account, this is the sort of thing where application X needs a very specific version of application y. In those cases, an upgrade is much easier to do by reinstalling the OS and starting again then transferring the data across!

As a potential solution to these issues that I’ve been exploring is Docker on VMWare’s Photon OS.

 VMware Photon logo

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vSphere 6.5: HA & DRS improvements. Part 2
Posted by Askar Kopbayev on March 3, 2017
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In Part II we will review the remaining improvements in vSphere Availability and Resource Management brought by vSphere 6.5.

Challenge: HA Restart priorities are not flexible enough

Description

Modern applications can be very complex and may consist of more than one server. Very often multi-tier applications require specific restart order, e.g. classic scheme DB – App – Web.  For instance, if an application server powers on before the database server the application will fail to start. To make it worse, there is no guarantee that the application server will automatically recover after DB server is powered on.  Sometimes the application server will have to be rebooted to restore the service. Moreover, there could be inter-application dependencies which make the situation even more complicated.

DRS in vSphere 6.5 view

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Connect Veeam to vCenter and add a Backup repository
Posted by Romain Serre on February 27, 2017
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In the previous topic, we have seen how to install and update Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5. In this topic, we will prepare the environment. We will connect to vCenter to be able to backup virtual machines and we will add a backup repository.

Connect Veeam to vCenter 6.5

In my lab environment, I have deployed a vCenter Server Appliance 6.5 (VCSA). The VCSA FQDN is admin.vsphere.lab.

First, you need an administrator user to connect to vCenter from Veeam. From vCenter, add a new user as below. I have called mine Veeam.

VMware vSphere Web Client

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Encryption of VMware vSphere 6.5 virtual machines and vMotion migrations. And their performance
Posted by Alex Samoylenko on January 26, 2017
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As many admins of virtual infrastructures know, for the first time ever, VMware vSphere 6.5 received the long awaited encryption feature of both virtual disks content and vMotion hot migrations.

The VMs encryption works based on AES-NI algorithm, and the key management is carried out based on KMIP 1.1 standard. When I/O operation comes to the disk of the virtual machine, it is immediately encrypted on-the-fly, which provides complete security against data security attack.

Virtual machine Encryption How it works

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Create an ESXi 6.5 installation USB under two minutes
Posted by Vladan Seget on January 24, 2017
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The Installation of ESXi 6.5 did not change much since previous release. After you’re download your installation ISO, you need to burn it to a CD-ROM in order to proceed with installation. Know that there is a way to install ESXi from USB stick too. And in this post we will prepare one. You as an administrator or consultant have to have your toolkit with the latest ESXi installer ready in your pocket, so today we’ll show one of the methods to create an ESXi 6.5 installation USB under two minutes.

While this method of creation of USB media is quick and it is done under two minutes, it is not always obvious to deal with hardware compatibility and drivers and firmware (combination of those two) for latest vSphere 6.5. At the end of the post we’ll show you few ways how to deal with that.

Create ESXi 6.5 Installation USB

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VMware’s vRealize Log Insight – The easy way to get datacenter insight
Posted by Michael Ryom on December 21, 2016
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For those of you who do not know vRealize Log Insight. It is a log collector and analyzer, with a pretty, simple and intuitive GUI. An easy way of managing logs and messages from all your datacenter devices. Best of all, it is not a VMware only product! In that sense that as long as the message is in syslog format it can be ingest by Log Insight. Wait, that is not all. If the device does not support syslog, like a Windows server. The Log Insight agent you can install on the OS in question. The Log Insight agent can handle Windows event viewer messages and log files of any kind. So even applications that do not adhere to any of the normal ways of logging messages (like syslog or windows event viewer), can still be collected, by specifying the location and format of the log file(s).

VMware vRealize Log Insight

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