VMworld USA – Day 4

So as I continued to blog during the week I wanted to make sure my posts were of sufficient quality. It got to the stage where I started having to make decisions to cut things out of my schedule to keep up! Although I was at VMworld to blog, I realised that I should make notes for the rest of time and then come back and retrospectively post about my remaining time.

Lesson learned: It’s great to get some live blogging done; but if you want to post in more detail – make notes and write up later!

On with Day 4!

I was up early and into the Moscone for breakfast before 8am. The main reason was because I didn’t want to miss the first session of the day which was with Christian Dickmann (@cdickmann) and Cormac Hogan (@CormacJHogan) discussing Monitoring and Troubleshooting VSAN! These guys are huge in the VSAN world and as a customer with VSAN in production, it really was a really must see!


The session was of course excellent; giving me an energized enthusiasm into getting our clusters at work upgraded to experience the rich enhancements that come with 6.1! I’ve summarised my notes on the session below.

My next session was a panel session about VCDX. All panellists were a VCDX and very well known: Aiden Dalgleish, Jason Nash, Matt Vandenbeld, Duncan Epping and Simon Long. I’m not at the level of a VCDX just yet, but having worked with VMware products for a long time; I understand that it might be something I want to pursue once I have my VCIX. I’ve also seen and heard that preparation is king with this qualification and there is no harm attending a session like this in order to gain a peripheral understanding of the expected calibre of a successful candidate. I found the session really useful; myths were busted and truths were told. Again, I’ve made notes on the session below.


As a blogger, I was interested to know what the top bloggers/experts were up to and their thoughts on the industry. My next stop of the day was to head to another panel hosted by Rick Scherer, EMC Field CTO. The guests again were all the household names (in my house at least :)): Duncan Epping, Scott Lowe, Chris Wahl and Chad Sakac. This session was great and intended for the audience to go and ask questions. Rick stressed at the start that he wanted to keep the Q&A limited on panel responses, which was ambitious given that Mr. Sakac was on stage! Not that I’m sure anyone cares, he’s wicked smart and extremely easy to listen to; a very charismatic guy, as I eluded to in one of my previous posts. As the panel got underway and sensing the tone of the session, I decided to ask a question. It was something that just came into my head that I thought might be fun if nothing else. So I stood in line for the microphone…

My time grew closer and I was stood waiting as the panel finished answering an insightful question from fellow vExpert @AmitPanchal regarding vendor collaboration and potential future partnerships. Then it was my turn:

“Gents, in the spirit of keeping things light hearted; given the confines of IT and the modern datacenter, if you could be a superhero or supervillain who would be your alter ego and what would your superpower be?!”

I’m not sure if the guys were fully prepared for such an impetuous query, although I think they saw the funny side to it. Chris Wahl jumped to his feet and ran to his backpack off stage and left the others to answer. He came back wearing his well-known big cowboy hat to help assist in his answer. To surmise:

Scott Lowe – The Unsung Hero
Chris Wahl – The Hyper Converged Cowboy
Duncan Epping – A Fault Tolerant Chad Sakac
Chad Sakac – IT Billionaire Exec (Think Tony Stark)
Rick Scherer – ??

As they finished answering and given Chris was wearing his prop, I couldn’t resist quickly dashing up in front of the panel and taking a quick a selfie!


If they do happen to read this, I’d like to thank them for: humouring my question, being great sports and giving back to their respected fields.

I didn’t take notes on the rest of the session, mainly because I was in the queue and enjoying listening to the other Q&A. It was a perceptive session and I’d urge anyone who can to go and watch it online.

My final session of the day was the vExpert Storage Game show. My only “vendor” sponsored one of the conference, but also one of the funniest. This was definitely a good choice for the last session before the VMworld party as it had great comedic value. A lot of famous faces on the panel all answering a “family feud” style of questioning, great entertainment!


After this session I dashed back to my hotel to give myself a few hours to get ready for the party. I turned up to AT&T park and was impressed with the size of the venue; literally a whole baseball stadium for VMworld attendees to have fun in!



There was free food, drink, fairground games, roller-skating and many other activities within the park. I took the time to listen to the bands as I do like live music and they were both pretty decent! The Neon Trees were up first and were good fun, their lead singer had a great stage presence.


The Alabama Shakes were next and also extremely good; the lead singer had a pair of lungs on her for sure – very impressive! I have heard through various channels that people were whining about the band choices this year; which is shame. Neither were my “preferred” style of music, but I thought they both rocked! I also listen to the vCommunity podcast where the guys have discussed the band selection process which takes a lot of time/effort, to which I am grateful.


It was then my queue to leave AT&T Park and head to the next gathering of the night for me; vStogies – hosted by Zerto! I turned around and grabbed one last picture of the night, which was a stark contrast to the one I took when I first arrived!


I ended the night at around 1am, exceptionally tired!

Monitoring and Troubleshooting VSAN – Cormac Hogan & Christian Dickmann

At the initial release of VSAN it was acknowledge by VMware that there were a few gaps in the management tools.

Now there are more recommended tools to use:
– ESXCLI namespace for VSAN
– Ruby vSphere Console (RVC)
– VSAN Observer
– Health Check Plugin (v6.0 only)
– vRealize Operations Management pack for Storage Devices (6.1)
– Log Insight

Real life troubleshooting scenario. In a new deployment what should you check?

– Components on HCL
o Easily tested using the HCL file, with no internet access update the DB file.

– Check network make sure everything is good (E.G-Multicast)
– Make sure VMs deploy

– Test underlying storage components with a stress test
o There is a performance test in the VSAN Plugin “Proactive tests” in Web UI.
o This can detect potential component failure before production.

– Inject failures, ensuring that VMs remain available.
o Host (power off, reboot)
o Network (disconnect uplinks, etc)
o Disks (special error injector with health check, more info in PoC Guide)
o Test one thing at a time and remedy before proceeding to test, especially if FTT=1.

– Test performance
o Consider using HCLbench which can be used to test.

The migration path from 5.5 to 6.1 is the same as though 5.5 to 6.0. Nothing changes in that respect, VSAN 6.1 will be available with vSphere 6.0 update 1 which is due to be GA imminently.

VCDX Unwrapped – Everything you wanted to know – Duncan Epping, Aidan Dalgleish, Jason Nash, Matt Vandenbeld & Simon Long

– Real world experience in design, architecting, presenting, implementing solutions
– Does not ask what needs to be done, seek out solutions when problems present themselves

– Traits
o Self-motivated
o Applies critical thinking
o Organized & methodical
o Process orientated
o Confident and adaptable
o Innovative and insightful
o Customer focused
o Continuous learner

Key take home notes:

– Size of environment doesn’t matter. It’s the thought process and detail in the design.
– You don’t have to include all vSphere products/software
– It is possible to submit a shared design but both architects must know the design inside out.
– Attention to detail is fundamental to the design, know it inside and out
– Questions from architect (what is your availability acceptance, how long should the outage be) and translate it into a technical requirement and translate that into a technical design.
– Document requirements and document into design decisions. This can then be presented to get a customer to sign off.
– VCDX 5 will be available until 6 is available. Then there will be a transition phase whilst 5 is leave.
– It is possible to have a full View design but defend for the DCV but it will focus more on DCV parts than View.
– The panel try to relax you and understand the expense, time, stress that goes into preparation. They have been there too!

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