Nutanix, NX-2400, Virtualization, VMware, vSphere

Upgrading your Nutanix NX-2400 block from ESXi 5.0 to ESXi 5.1 using a USB thumb drive.

At the moment, I’m lucky enough to have a Nutanix block at home that I use for demos (it’s coming along to Switzerland with me tomorrow). It’s not the model with the highest specs, but it helps in giving customers a chance to actually see the kit, and give partners some hands-on time. In case you are wondering, I’m actually working with a NX-2400, or a 4-node NX-2000 cluster, hence 2400.

Thing is though, that it was running an older version of the Nutanix Operating System (NOS), which I upgraded to the latest version (NOS 3.1) without a hitch, and it was running ESXi 5.0. And to play with some of the latest features, I actually decided to upgrade to ESXi 5.1, and I figured I might as well share how that worked out for me.

The steps are relatively simple, but I figured I’ll document them here anyway. One word of caution though:

    This was done with the latest info from the Nutanix knowledge base. Be sure to check if there are updated instructions available prior to upgrading your own block.

So, step one is to actually get the installation media for ESXi 5.1. In case of the NX-3000, you can use the standard ESXi 5.1 image. For the NX-2000 systems, you need to use an image that is customized by Nutanix. Contact myself or your local systems engineer to get the download location.

Next, create a bootable USB stick using the image. Easiest way I found is to actually format the stick with FAT32 as the filesystem. I recommend using a Windows system, or a Windows VM, since no matter what I tried, I couldn’t get it to boot using a Mac. Once the drive is formatted, I used UNetbootin:

UNetbootin ESXi 5.1 Nutanix

Click on “Disc Image” and select the ISO file. Make sure “USB Drive” is selected, and point it to the correct drive. Then click on “OK”, and watch it go to work. If it gives you a message stating that menu.c32 is already present, click on the “Yes” button.

We’ll also need to edit the NFS heartbeat timeout settings. To do that, log on to vCenter, select the node and go to “Software” -> “Advanced settings”. There go to the NFS entries, and modify the “NFS.HeartbeatTimeout” setting to 30 seconds. Do that for each host.

Next, we need to make sure the multiextent module is loaded. Add the following lines to /etc/rc.local.d/local.sh on each host (if not already there):
#added to support multiextent
localcli system module load -m multiextent
#end of adding

Then restart the host.

Once you are done, it is time to start the upgrade. Go in to the BIOS (using the Delete key) on the node you want to upgrade, and change the boot order so that you actually start off of your USB stick. Once you save the config and restart, you will be given a menu where you select the second option:

Unetbootin - Nutanix ESXi 5.1 upgrade menu

After that you should be able to see the trusted ESXi boot sequence:
ESXi 5.1 boot screen

At the installation screen, just hit the “Enter” key to continue with the installation. Read the license agreement, and continue with F11. Next, you are asked where the installation should reside. Normally you should see the Intel SSD already have a VMFS partition, indicated by the small asterisk in front of the disk. Select that disk and press “Enter” to continue:
ESXi 5.1 upgrade VMFS

Next, a prompt should show up asking if you want to upgrade. Select that option, and press “enter” once more:
Upgrade VMFS ESXi 5.1

The final step is to confirm your upgrade by pressing the “F11” key. Once the upgrade is done, remove the USB thumb drive, and reboot the server by again hitting the “Enter” key. Let the node reboot, change the boot order to the original sequence, and, tadaaaaaa:
Nutanix - ESXi 5.1 upgrade complete

Now, obviously this would be easier using the vSphere Update Manager, but this was the solution I used, since I only installed the vCenter virtual appliance. Not pretty but it works.

One key thing left to do, is to re-register the controller VMs on your ESXi host. You can do this via the vSphere client going directly to the ESXi host. Just right-click the VM and select “remove from inventory”. Then browse the datastore, go to the folder saying “ServiceVM-1.24_Ubuntu” and add the VM to the inventory using the VMX file. You can now start your VM after you confirmed that you moved it. 🙂

The other alternative to re-register your VM using vim-cmd via an SSH session on to your ESXi host. Just check which VMs you have running:
vim-cmd vmsvc/getallvms

Vmid Name File Guest OS Version Annotation
190 NTNX-TRAIN2-S11317022510746-A-CVM--2- [NTNX-local-ds-S11317022510746-A] ServiceVM/ServiceVM.vmx ubuntu64Guest vmx-07
Remember the VMID and de-register the VM:
vim-cmd vmsvc/unregister [vmid of controller VM]Now simply re-register the VM:
vim-cmd solo/register [/full/file/path/to/the/controller_vm_name.vmx]You might want to rename the controller VM once you have registered it.

Should you have any issues starting the VM, make sure that there is no line saying:
sched.mem.prealloc = "TRUE"in the .vmx file of you VM. If this line is present, remove it, and re-register your VM.

Nutanix, Storage, VMware, VMworld

Nutanix – 2013 vExpert gift

nutanix-logo-transparent-hirez300So, this is something I found out just after my first day at Nutanix. There is a Facebook post by Nutanix, stating the following:

Nutanix would like to congratulate all #vExpert winners with a personalized pint glass at #VMWorld! Winners- reach out to us if interested.

I sent out a tweet, and got back a couple of replies. Some folks don’t use Facebook, some won’t be visiting VMworld in the US (or Europe for that matter), and it wasn’t quite clear what info was needed.

In an effort to consolidate this a bit more, I set up a Google spreadsheet, that just has some basic info. Your first name, last name, Twitter handle, and if you will be visiting VMworld in the US or Europe. You don’t have to sign in, editing is possible when accessing the document using the direct link.

Should you not visit, I think we can arrange that the personalized pint glass will be shipped to you, and we will follow up with you regarding details on shipping. Just make sure that you either follow the Nutanix Twitter account, or my Twitter account so that we can send you a direct message should we need your shipping information.

The link to the document is: http://bit.ly/Nutanix_vExpert_2013

And in case you are wondering, I took the liberty of filling out the info of the people who had already replied to me via Twitter. And yes, we will be checking if you are on the official list. 😉

EMC, VMUG, VMware

VMUG for Germany west (Schwalbach am Taunus)

Just a small reminder for the people that live in my area. On Friday, June 7th, the German VMware User Group (VMUG) west will be meeting up at the EMC office in Schwalbach (click here for a PDF with the address and route). In case you don’t know what the VMUG is for, here’s a quick summary:

The VMware User Group (VMUG) is an independent, global, customer-led organization, created to maximize members’ use of VMware and partner solutions through knowledge sharing, training, collaboration, and events.

The beauty of it? It’s something set up by users for other users. That means that people come to these events to get information that is vendor neutral, and have the ability to talk freely to others without having to fear that someone is trying to only give them the marketing pitch. Or at least, that is what it should be like.

So, the Germany West VMUG Meeting is at Friday, June 7, 2013 at the following address and time:

09:30 – 16:15

EMC Deutschland GmbH
Am Kronberger Hang 2a
65824 Schwalbach/Taunus

You can use this link to register for the event, free of charge, and get to see talks on VMware Nicira, “VMware Network & Security” and other security related topics.

And one important thing to note. The VMUG is a community set up by VMware customers for VMware customers. To exchange ideas, exchange common issues or worries, learn and get to know others in the community. If you feel like you can contribute, submit a proposal for a talk, or suggest a topic for the next VMUG. The more people that participate, the better a VMUG gets!

I’ll be there, and I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

vCenter Operations, VMware, VMworld

VMworld: Vote for my session! And vote for others!

Things have been relatively quiet on my blog, and I need to apologize for that. I’ve been swamped in work, and besides work, I’ve also been busy with a suggestion for a book that was accepted by VMware Press. Plenty of stuff to do, but that is not an excuse to not blog. And for that, I am genuinely sorry.

That doesn’t mean that things haven’t moved forward though. The 2013 vExpert application was opened, and there was a call for papers for VMworld in 2013. I did actually submit one session proposal, and seems to have made it through the first round. That means it is off to public voting, and that is where I need some help.

I submitted my session titled “vCenter Operations: Advanced dashboard creation and monitoring made easy”. And I think the title speaks for itself, but let me give you an abstract anyway:

vCenter Operations: Advanced dashboard creation and monitoring made easy” does what the title says. Getting an initial start with vCenter Operations is easy, but the custom view gets people puzzled.

In my session, I will show that creating your own advanced dashboards isn’t rocket science, and try to show tips and tricks to create advanced dashboards in an easy way.

If you are interested in helping me out, the key thing to know is that you need a VMworld account. You can quickly register an account (free of charge, obviously) at http://www.vmworld.com. Once you registered your account, just follow this link:

http://www.vmworld.com/cfp.jspa

From there on everything is relatively straightforward. You will get a list of all of the session proposals, all with a small icon of a white thumb in front of the sessions. To vote, just click on the thumb. You’ll receive a confirmation window that you voted, and the thumb will turn green:

VMworld 2013 session vote

So, if you feel like this may be something that could interest you, you can help by voting for me. And in case you don’t like my proposal? I’d recommend that you still have a look through the list of proposals, and help someone else with your votes. There are cool sessions which I personally like, like for example:

  • 5076 – Design vC Ops Dashboards that make you a rockstar for your operators. Lessons learned from multi-year dashboard design using different data adapters.
  • 4872 – Operating and Architecting a vMSC based infrastructure
  • 4518 – A Technical Deep Dive on NFS Network Design
  • 4570 – Ask the Expert VCDX’s
  • 5155 – Network Virtualization for vSphere Admins: What You Need to Know
  • 4769 – An Introduction to VMware’s vCloud Network and Security Virtualization Architecture and Platform as part of the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC).

And there are more good ones out there. Chad Sakac has also done a blog post on his favorite sessions here.

So please, vote for me, vote for others, but most important of all: vote! 🙂

Certification, VMware

vSphere Design: CARR – How do you know if you have them correct?

Image linked from http://justcreative.com/2009/10/11/classic-elegant-serif-fonts/I’m a techie. I like technology, and ask me to solve a problem that involves something with a computer, and usually I’ll get it solved. My boss seems to know that, and it’s one of the reasons why I get pulled in to projects that require hands-on.

I like to talk about technology. It’s one of the reasons that I enjoy being in my current pre-sales role so much. I enjoy taking a technology, trying to simplify what it does, and then talking to a customer to see if a technology can add value in their setup, or solve one or more specific problems they might be having.

The one doesn’t work without the other for me. I need stick time with something before I’m really able to effectively communicate about it. I’m not the kind of guy to go over a PowerPoint presentation and then deduce how a product works in real life. I can do that up to a certain degree, but I won’t feel really confident without having some form of hands-on.

In comes the design part

In one of my previous posts, I asked how you learn to speak design. There are design methodologies that can help you uncover goals, and it will be up to you to identify the CARR, or written out:

  • Constraints
  • Assumptions
  • Risks
  • Requirements

And this is where the hard part is for me. I don’t deal with this terminology, in a design environment, on a day-to-day basis. And it makes it hard to actually categorize these in a correct fashion, without a lot of practice.

There is a good document on the VMware Community page that goes in to detail on “Functional versus Non-functional” requirements. The document states the following:

Functional requirements specify specific behavior or functions, for example:
“Display the heart rate, blood pressure and temperature of a patient connected to the patient monitor.”

…..

Non-functional requirements specify all the remaining requirements not covered by the functional requirements. They specify criteria that judge the operation of a system, rather than specific behaviors, for example: “Display of the patient’s vital signs must respond to a change in the patient’s status within 2 seconds.”

Which makes it relatively simple. Those are simple examples, and when you keep in mind that a non-functional requirement usually is a design constraint, you should be all set to identify constraints and requirements, right?

Maybe not so much?

Along comes something in a different form, and then the over-thinking starts:

  • “You must re-use existing server hardware”.
  • That’s great. I “must” do something, so it’s a requirement, right? But does this change the way that “my heart rate is displayed”? Well, since I’m a techie, depending on the server model, this might influence the way it’s displayed. Do I need to change my design because I’m re-using the hardware? Well, you may need to. But normally your design shouldn’t depend on the hardware you are re-using. But what if it’s not allowing me to create a cluster, or run certain workloads, or is so old that it won’t allow me to use certain features?

And the rambling goes on, and on, and on.. At least, I think this is where a lot of folks can go wrong. My gut feeling is that we perhaps over-think what is being said/asked. If we know nothing about the environment at all, but the customer tells us that we need to re-use the hardware that is already in place, then that is a?

  • Requirement? We are after all required to re-use the hardware?
  • Constraint? We are constrained from bringing in any other hardware?

What would be your take on this? And what do you use to actually differentiate and remember what is what?

VMUG, VMware, VMworld

VMUG for Germany west (Frankfurt)

Just a small reminder for the people that live in my area. On Tuesday, December 4th, the German VMware User Group (VMUG) west will be meeting up in Frankfurt. In case you don’t know what the VMUG is for, here’s a quick summary:

The VMware User Group (VMUG) is an independent, global, customer-led organization, created to maximize members’ use of VMware and partner solutions through knowledge sharing, training, collaboration, and events.

The beauty of it? It’s something set up by users for other users. That means that people come to these events to get information that is vendor neutral, and have the ability to talk freely to others without having to fear that someone is trying to only give them the marketing pitch. Or at least, that is what it should be like.

So, the Germany West VMUG Meeting is at Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at the following address and time:

10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Dell Solution Center
Main Airport Center
Unterschweinstiege 10
Frankfurt Am Main, Germany 60549

You can use this link to register for the event, free of charge, and get to see Mike Laverick give a talk on “Cloud and disaster recovery”, and more DR topics. Plus, you get the chance to go over some of the VMworld Labs.

I’ll be there, and I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

Certification, General, Virtualization

How do I get to be “that good”?

This is a post that I’ve been struggling with for quite some time now. Did you ever get that feeling, seeing folks around you achieve things that you envisioned for yourself? People seeming to reach a certain level of knowledge, and you strive yourself to get to that level? Asking yourself the question, how can I reach their level, how do I get to be “that good”?

I’ve joined EMC just over 2 years ago in my current role as a vSpecialist. When I actually joined the team, I always felt like I was the dumbest guy on the team. Since then, I’ve learned so much about all kinds of topic, and I think I achieved a pretty decent level of knowledge surrounding virtualization and a lot of the encompassing technologies. I’ve been lucky enough to get the vExpert title awarded twice, and I was able to work on my certifications (VCP, VCAP, EMC Cloud Architect, EMC IT-as-a-Service Expert).

Still, you see folks around you working on stuff, and the more you learn, the more you learn about what you don’t know. As for myself, I still need to work on my networking knowledge. I realize more and more that it needs brushing up. The role of vSpecialist inside of the company is evolving, and while we still support the basic virtualization stack, we are now starting to focus more on what we do, now that a lot of folks are starting to realize that the hypervisor itself isn’t that “thrilling” anymore. Most hypervisors will perform their basic function at a good level. That means, that we need to start looking at what we can do with the technologies that build upon the features and functions that were enabled by using a hypervisor.

And then, there is the part about where you would like to go as an individual. I don’t perform designs on a daily basis for my work. I’ve been involved in roughly 4 very large design projects in my time as a vSpecialist, but that doesn’t qualify me as a landscape designer or architect. I still have a personal goal though, to attain the VCDX certification.

Why? Yeah, the title sounds nice and all. But I feel like it’s an important skillset to have. And it’s a confirmation from a select group of peers that you have attained a certain level. You understand how things interconnect, are able to obtain a holistic view. It shows that, given/taken the time needed, you are able to understand the customer requirements, map those to a blueprint that will actually help the customer in achieving a set goal.

For me the challenge is the way I learn (I absolutely need hands to make stuff stick in my head and make the logical link), and finding the time to actually learn what I both need and what I want to learn.

In the end, I guess that we get to be “that good”, by looking at examples of people who we see as being “that good”, trying to learn from them in ways that help us enable ourselves. We spend the time because we don’t have any other choice. I want to learn, it’s in my DNA. The biggest problem in actually achieving the next level is more of a mental challenge as I see it, since that next level is a moving target. Usually we reach that next level without even knowing, just by being dedicated and motivated.

I know this isn’t a real technical post, and I’m not even 100% sure this post is of use to anyone besides myself, but it’s something that I needed to write down to clear my own head. So here goes, off to the next level, and maybe one day I’ll actually be that good. And I promise, the next post will be more technical in nature again. And if you should have any comments, I’m looking forward to reading them. 🙂