I know I’m kind of late with this, but better late than never. Been really busy with work, but I wanted to put this up on the blog. 🙂
So today I got a nice email:
So now I can start using the VMUG NSX training and I’m stoked! – going to get deep into the books now and study even harder. Want to take exam in two weeks now that I got some ICM love and official training on-top of the Synex book I’ve read over and the labbing in the home-lab. This is just more icing on the cake!
Lets get this party started!
Check back soon in a few weeks to see this:
I was on the VMware forums on Wednesday and one of the biggest names in Software Defined Networking at VMware made a posting about a offering VMware was giving away in regards to training for VMware’s Software-Defined Networking for the datacenter and for vCloud, the software behind what makes the ‘cloud’ a reality for MSP industry who are “in-deep” as they say, so I was like sure why not I’ll make a post about my career and see what happens…
I feel that for the MSP world to really work, there needs to be a shift from private clouds to a hybrid with a public to public IaaS fabric that solves one of the biggest problems in IT right now, Security. VMware NSX is one of the most secure public to public frameworks I have ever seen. It solves the problems we, as IT professionals face, in regards to the concerns of customers around security and this was expressed in the posting.
Well, I was a little shocked this morning, as I got selected!
Here is what the reward was and what they asked. 🙂
Well after a few months of studying and failing the exam the end of December I wanted to pass it this time, so I blew away my home-lab like 5 times and did it in 4 different ways to make sure I knew the content. Took the exam on March 25th and passed the exam with a score of 383.
Now onto the road towards the following exams:
So over the weekend I was labbing as per normal and I’ve been running into contention issues with my network and I think my tested and true Cisco 3750G’s are finally meeting their makers. The bonded Quad 1G connections over a vDS are starting to show slowness. I am kind of hammering the crap out of the lab. It gets very slow when I set DRS/SDRS to fully automatic and the whole backup storage goes to a crawl once those 1G links are saturated.
So I think I’m upgrading the Dell R610’s to 10G for ISCSI and LAN traffic.
I already have a Cisco 3750E as the core switch, and (4) Cisco 3750G’s in the rack and the (4) Cisco 3750E’s have just arrivedm just waiting for the 10G X2 cards to arrive. 😀
The additional Sonicwall TZ 210 arrived on Wednesday, snagged it for $50, I think I’ll use one of the 3750G slim (1U) as the DMZ switch.
I already have a QNAP TS-531X as my 10G-ready NAS, that is just being used at 1G on a dual bond. However I did kind of make an impulsive move with work and bought a TS-831X as-well as we get a steep QNAP discount at work. I think I might use the TS-531X as the new backup appliance and/or plex server.
Did some research and I think I’m going with these, as the most cost effective manner to go 10G:
The plan, for now, is to go solo 10G connections for both iSCSI/vSAN and for LAN traffic on both of the 10G ports on the 57711’s. I’ll setup Network I/O in Enterprise Plus 6.5 to manage the traffic. The pre-existing Dual Quad nic’s will be setup on the Storage 3750E’s in a Quad LACP bond as a standby link in the event the 57771 goes offline and like-wise for the LAN traffic. Each of the Quad LACP links for LAN and Management will most likely also be split 2-n-2 per Quad Nic so there isn’t only a Quad LACP but the traffic is balanced 2-by-2 across both Quad Nic’s. I like redundancy.
As for the 10G links well maybe at a later date I’ll snag another 3750E and another 57771 per host and reconfigure traffic flows so storage will have redundant 10G.
This network and storage fabric will be in two different stacks and the network will be a collapsed core.
I feel that this is the ideal setup as I’m going more towards a VMware NSX setup and I’d like to make the physical networking fabric as simple and as fast as possible. 🙂
I think I’ll keep the 3750G and 2960G around, as they might come in handy later on. 😀
Lastly, I still have these two Brocade 6610’s I got off ebay last month, that I may just use them as the Storage switches, but what is sad is I still need one more 10G license for the 2nd 6610 and it’s $650 off ebay. It’s still cheaper @ $105 per for two more Cisco 3750E’s of ebay. So I’m perplexed. I’ll use these 6610’s for something, maybe use one as a overkill replacement to the DMZ 2960G. 😀
Here is the design idea. 🙂
What is vExpert you might be asking yourself, and it’s a very valid question. It’s an offering from VMware to people that follow the VMware community and are supportive of the products they provide. It’s also for people that speak of VMware products at events, in blogs, on forums, and in social media.
Now you all are probably like kool so it’s a neat looking title, but it’s so much more than that, namely speaking VMware provides licensing for their VMware products for the entire year of the title.
This licensing if you bought it would cost 10’s of thousands of dollars retail, what this allows you to do in make a home-lab, like the one on my blog, so you can play with VMware products in the comfort of your home and not with screaming end-user complaining about something you broke. Additionally, VMware vExpert gives you access to free licensing and other offers from countless VMware Industry partners like Veeam, Trend Micro, Symantec, Brocade, etc; all of which if you didn’t apply for this free-to-join community would cost you out-of-pocket.
It’s truly a no brainer, apply today!
Took the CompTIA Storage + exam on Saturday and passed, it was a pretty straightforward exam, I enjoyed it quite a bit. The study prep for it was also nice to learn, learned a number of things that will follow me through in my datacenter and system administration roles. Will use the knowledge from it to make effective datacenter decision moving forward, and I will have ap lan on my shelf for the book for reference.
Study Material Used:
Onward to the Cisco CCNA:R&S (ICDN2) pursuit to finish up that certification. I will either do VCP6-DCV after that or do Project + or possible both if I’m crazy enough. 🙂
Reading an article online today about a fix to an issue involving Windows Server 2008 R2 and it’s write performance to a Back-End SAN it made me curious. Since in a VMware world, especially, your always looking for way to improve back-end performance for SQL and other write intensive servers/applications and bleed as much perofrmance as possible.
After applying this hotfix perofrmance improved for Writes as-well as on reads.
Hopefully this hotfix helps other as it has helped me. 🙂
So the last few days I’ve been using Veeam’s Backup program for backing up VM’s at work to give the tool a try and I really like it.
Last week I got the VMware vExpert Award and I found out I can have Veeam Backup and Replication v8 for 1 year for my home-lab and I’ve been giving it a try. I like it quite a bit thus far and I might very well push for it at my work so we can have outstanding backups!!!!!
Here is a link to a video on the product:
Here is a description of the product:
#1 VM Backup for VMware and Hyper-V
Veeam Backup & Replication™ is much more than backup – it provides fast, flexible, and reliable recovery of virtualized applications and data. We bring backup and replication together in a single solution to reinvent data protection and deliver the #1 VM backup for VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V virtual environments.
Organizations are modernizing their data centers in order to provision IT services faster, strengthen security and control, and lower operational costs. While building modern data centers, organizations invest in server virtualization, modern storage applications and cloud-based services. However, businesses are facing new demands from end users including access to data and applications 24/7, no patience for downtime or data loss, and exponential data growth at 30-50% per year.
This opens a gap—an availability gap—between the requirements of the Always-On Business™ and IT’s ability to effectively deliver availability. Veeam® bridges this gap by providing customers a new kind of solution—Availability for the Modern Data Center™, which delivers recovery time and point objectives (RTPO) of < 15 minutes for ALL applications and data.
Veeam’s award-winning technology delivers:
- Recovery of failed VM in as little as 2 minutes
- Near-continuous data protection with built-in replication
- Fast, agentless item recovery and e-discovery for Microsoft ExchangeENHANCED!, SharePoint and Active Directory, along with transaction-level recovery of SQL databases
- Lower RPOs and 20x faster backups with backup from HP and NetApp storage snapshots
- Automatic recoverability testing of every backup and every replica, every time
- Offsite backups 50x faster than standard file copy with built-in WAN acceleration
- Fast and secure cloud backups with Veeam Cloud Connect
- Deduplication and compression to minimize storage consumption
- Offsite recovery with 1-click site failover and support for facilitated data center migrations with zero data loss
So I’m adding pain to misery to my certification madness. Since CompTIA announced that on Jan. 15th 2015 they will be discontinuing Storage + and I’ve always wanted it I’ve added the Storage + exam prep to my Cisco ICDN2 study time as-well.
So since I’m a man of goals and pushing my knowledge, I’ve schedule the exam for the 19th of September. I’ve finished Nigel’s book on the subject and now I’m doing Pluralsight and CBT Nuggets video review leading up to the exam.
Adding pain to insult and doing Project + on the following weekend.
On a side note my ICDN2 exam is October 24th.
My goal is to have the Storage + and CCNA: R&S done by the end of the year.
So I’m going to do something new for my blog and that is to at-least make monthly updates to my progression for the month.
This month has been busy I’ve been studying like a banshie for the CCNA exam while at the same time work on a project at work. I’ve schedule my exam for the 29th of June, now that the massive work-project, explained below, is done and I’ve been re-focusing on my studies. On a non-technical note I completed a 22 mile hike around Bear Mountain, CT on the weekend of 16th of May and that was pretty amazing.
Picture from hike:
(Typically I’ve seen a project of this scale done by a few engineers but I was able to do it all solo and without a problem. It’s something I give credit to my home-lab cause I was able to visualize both mentally and physically which allowed me to plan it out accordingly and if I ran into problems with the production environment I just brought it home to the home-lab and troubleshooted it at home.)
The project at work entailed the following hardware/software/consolidation:
1. (2) new Dell R700 series servers on Dual Xeon HT-enabled processors with 128 GB’s of RAM each with 8 gigabit nics w/ internal flash for ESXi 5.5.
2. Equalogic 4100S SAN with 18 TB’s in a RAID 10.
3. (2) Dell N3048 L3 switches in a super-stack for iSCSI/vMotion only traffic – completely separated from production.
4. (6) Dell N2048 switches in a super-stack to replace a aging Dell 2824 switching fabric for production. This also has employed over 5+ vLAN’s now compared to the previous solo flat /24 subnet.
5. 195 minutes of APC UPS backup runtime with Network Shutdown 4.0 remote shutdown module for a DR-power-outage scenario with email alerts for a controlled-monitored shutdown if needed.
6. Network re-cabling of CAT5e and fiber uplinks for the entire network replacing aging CAT 3/5 drops w/ proper punch-down placement and cable management.
7. Employment of a complete VMware Data Center platform with ESXi, vCenter, vCops, VUM, svMotion, vMotion, comprehensive snapshots both virtually and on the storage array, along with use of Backup Assist for backups of the VMware assets.
8. Complete Server Physical-to-Virtual Migration of all server assets with a redundant solo DC “outside of cookie jar” setup for domain fault-tolerance with a an affinity rule for ‘Core’ servers to live on the same host for inter-vSwitch performance benefits.
Benefits of the Project
1. Consolidation of server assets into a centrally managed infrastructure which now allows for greater ease of administrative/resource management, aggregated performance and disaster recovery.
2. Server “right-sizing” for all servers to adjust for higher resources pools which resulting in a 50% performance increase across the board.
3. With the deployment of a SAN for storage, we gained the performance of a centralized array for all servers to access which resulted in a 46% increase in IO speeds for high-demand servers such as our ERP application and SQL databases.
4. With a properly designed network infrastructure broadcasts and security are controlled now with the proper deployment of vLAN’s and ACL’s as-well as performance increases from network segmentation that now all now lives on a 228 Gpbs throughput core switching fabric. The network re-design coupled with the network re-cabling improve network performance drastically from proper placement of cabling away from EMI and the removal of aging CAT 3/5 cabling.
5. Cost savings, by reducing the server footprint we’ve reduced out power costs of the 20+ servers into just a few servers while at the same time reduced our cooling needs.
6. Stability, with the entire server infrastructure we’ve been able to maintain a higher up-time that previously achieved which is amazing coming from a company that in the past was accustomed to daily server crashes which equated into lost revenue.
Overall the month of May was an amazingly fun and busy time for me. I loved every bit of it when it came to doing the project as-well as my CCNA study. When I got done with the project I stepped back and it hit me; “I did it”, I completed the project from start (design/planning) to finish (implementation/configuration/administration) all by myself without any outside help. To me that feeling of achievement was amazing that with my commitment to my certifications and home-lab/self-study I was able to do this project without any problems at all. This just proves to me that I’m doing the right things with my career and I look forward to a promising future. 🙂
I’d like to say a special thanks to the guys/gals over at Techexams.net; your invaluable insight into my questions has been hands-down essential, and I’d like to thank my co-worker Juan Ayala for being super supportive, also for my parents and friends who said I was estranged from them but in-fact I was just dedicated to completing the project.
Once again being a very active member of the www.techexams.net community I have discovered VMUG. VMUG is a user-based group that focuses on the areas of VMware and it’s solutions. I joined the network and 3 weeks ago I purchased the VMUG Advantage subscription and to my amazement this year VMware is offering the following software for home-lab users:
Included products are:
VMUG Advantage: link
Well one of the neat things they did recently is now the subscription allows me to use 3 hosts with up to 6 CPU’s and unlimited cores. So…… now my home cluster can have Enterprise Plus licensing with vCOPS and vSAN. I still have enough for a 3rd host later on down the road if I choose to get one for even more testing.
One of the things I really like is vCOPS and what it shows you in one pane of glass. The feature of this solution really help for complex and large datacenters. I’ve been using at work and the centralized management of my cluster is amazing. it makes vCenter look like a walk in the park. At some point I will test on vRealize but for right now I’m having way too much fun with the vSphere 5.5 w/ vCOPS and vSAN in my QNAP Ts-420 IP SAN in the home lab.
I’m really quite excited that VMware is doing this technet-oriented subscription for VMware. I like home-labbing and spend over 20+ hours a week invested into labbing with VMware, Cisco, Microsoft, and Sonicwall technologies and having a licensed and fully working VMware cluster really helps replicate a Enterprise grade network as close to the real deal as can be physically possible. I’m looking forward to now cramming these existing twin Dell R610’s with 64 GB’s of RAM and fully utilizing there benefits to a home cluster…..
My only problem now is I need to expand my home network out of a /24 into a /23 or use multiple vlans for all my VM’s and projects, lol! – Never thought that would happen!
Below is my vCOPS for my home lab, and without this solution I would have never been able to see that my VM’s are over provisioned.
Whelp it was a long study but after 5 months of study I’ve completed the VCP5-DCV course study and passed the exam on January 5th 2015. Since taking the ICM class at Stanly College in Locust NC back in October of 2014 I was basically living in my home-lab 5 hours a night during the week and about 10 hours on weekends and working with VMware 5.5 on a daily basis on the job at customer locations. I was actually kind of shocked by getting into the ICM class back in September and kind of pissed, I was literally 3 weeks from taking my CCNA:R&S exam but I had to shift gears and move into the VMware track…
In-fact in the month of December I did 10 full VMware ESXi 5.5 deployments sporting Dell R720 servers, Dell Equalogic SAN storage, HP/Cisco/Dell Switches for both iSCSI and FCoE as-well as deploying networking fabric to enhance the capabilities of customer networks. It’s been a blast and it really helped me pass the exam, also knowing that customers server infrastructure is state of-the-art! …But this kind of stuff is what I like doing…
I really underestimated the complexity of the exam and how hard it really was, but I managed to pass it. I really enjoyed working with VMware’s vSphere and vCenter products so this was quite the achievement for me personally (once I’m done with my next 2 certifications I’ll probably tackle the VCAP5-DCA) and furthermore how this product suite can truly make for a better working environment for pretty much any IT infrastructure that doesn’t yet utilize visualization. The features it provides your classical IT design strategy really helps a IT department sleep better; this is all coming from a IT person like myself that dealt with IT before the use of visualization.
The VCP5-DCV exam was hard, but now I’m getting back on the bandwagon and pressing onward and back on-track towards my Cisco Certified Network Associate: Routing and Switching (CCNA: R&S) since I’ve been using Cisco for a few years now but I want to get certified in networking and Cisco has the networking sector by the balls. My goal is to be CCNA:R&S certified by the end of March 2015. My overall goals for 2015 are to get my CCNA:R&S and my MCSA, if I have time the CCNA: Security.
Now some of you may-be like wow you have a pretty extensive lab; well I do but there is a method to my madness. I wanted to get my CCNA:R&S 1st but fate had a different route and I got my VCP5-DCV 1st so now I’m getting back into Cisco, once I get my CCNA:R&S I’ll pursue my MCSA. See this lab may-be extensive but it’s many solutions built into one package, that package is as close to a enterprise network as can be done.
Currently my VMware cluster has 2 different forests being used on two of the vLAN’s in the Cisco lab, this mimics two different Windows Domains and VMware datacenters and since this Cisco lab is setup to be isolated, the domains never leave the Cisco lab but the vCenter appliance is linked to a management network connected to my home LAN so I can manage them as if I had access to both networks, it seems complicated but it’s really not, we not for me at-least. See it may not be a very large scale deployment but its the practice that makes perfect I always say.
Below is a picture of my current Cisco Lab Topology for those that are curious:
1) the dotted squares represent network boundaries or vlans
2) The red lines are the production/management vlans
3) the green lines are for iSCSI/vMotion/svMotion only traffic.