2014 Top vBlog Results

2014_Award-Banner_Top-50For the last six years Eric Siebert has been running the annual top virtualisation blog poll over at vSphere-Land

This takes a tremendous amount of time on Eric’s behalf to not only market the awards, but to organise gifts from the vendor community.  This year awards included Asus Nexus 7 Tablet and a Google Chromecast.

It was great to see a number of blog’s that I regularly visit rising up the ranks, these include:

Everyone on the list takes time out of their busy schedules to create content to be consumed by others, whether this is for a new product, a how to guide or resolving an issue.  For me, this is something that I never fail to recognise.

I’m pleased to say that VMFocus.com has made the top 50, coming in at number 42.  I know it sounds corny, but I was genuinely shocked by this.  So a thank you to everyone who took the time out to vote for me and everyone else on the list.  We all do appreciate it!

If you fancy watching the results show, head over to YouTube and give Eric Siebert a Like


Changing vCenter IP Address: VUM Error Fix

After changing the vCenter IP Address, I ran into a a couple of issues with VUM.  Which generated the following error messages:

Plug-In Manager Plug-in is unavailable for the following server(s): – VMF-VC01.vmfocus.local

VUM Error 01

vSphere Client There was an error connecting to VMware vSphere Update Manager – [vmf-vc01:443].  The request failed because of a connection failure. (Unable to connect to the remote server).

VUM Error 02

Steps Taken To Resolve – DNS

The first step was to double check my DNS, I had already performed the tasks below after changing vCenter IP Address.

  • Removed reverse DNS zone for old vCenter subnet and added new reverse DNS zone for correct subnet
  • Updated DNS for ESXi Hosts & vCenter
  • Cleared DNS Cache on vCenter and Domain Controller

Steps Taken To Resolve – VMware KB

The next step was to make any amendments to VUM.  This consisted of the following:

  • Checked DSN to VUM database continued to work
  • Stopped vSphere Update manager Service
  • Followed the instructions under VMwareKB101322

Both of the original errors continued to persist, so the next step was to follow a KB for vSphere 4.1

  • Stopped vSphere Update manager Service
  • Followed the instructions under VMwareKB1014639

Again this did not resolve the issue, however it did mention a vCenter Update Manager Utility.


Lunch VMwareUpdateManagerUtility.exe which is located in C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\Infrastructure\Update Manager

VUM Fix 01

Connect to vCenter using the correct IP Address

VUM Fix 02

Select Re-register to vCenter Server and enter the new IP Address of vCenter and your credentials.  Click Apply

VUM Fix 03

Once complete, re-enable the VMware vSphere Update Manager Plug-In and you should receive the trusted Security Warning dialogue box. Which means vCenter and VUM can talk, everyone’s a winner!

VUM Working

Lab Upgrade

It’s time for an upgrade to the vmfocus.com lab.  The existing hardware has been great, however when trying to run View, alongside SRM, every compute area became a bottleneck.

I’m fortunate enough to have been offered some free colo which is pretty awesome.  The plan is to be able to use Horizon View, Workspace and SRM along with vCenter and a few other components.  So with this in mind, the new lab will consist of the following:

ESXi Hosts

  • 2 x HP ProLiant DL380 G6
  • 4 x Intel Xeon L5520 Quad Core 2.26GHz giving a total of 32 Hyper Threaded Cores
  • 2 x 72GB RAM
  • 16 x 1GB NIC’s (2 x Quad Port Built in, 2 x Quad Port,)
  • 2 x P400 Smart Array 256MB BBWC 3Gb/s
  • 8 x 72GB 15K SAS HDD
  • 8 x 2.5″ Drive Caddies
  • 4 x PSU
  • 2 x iLO


  • 2 x Samsung EVO 250GB 2.5″ SSD 6Gb/s
  • 2 x Hitachi Travelstar 7.2K 1TB 2.5″ SATA 6Gb/s
  • 8 x HP 72GB 10K SAS


  • 1 x HP v1910 24G Layer 2 switch with static routing

Configuration – ESXi01

The plan is to boot ESXi from internal SD card and use RAID 1 local storage.

Tier 1 Storage – RAID 1 using 2 x Samsung EVO 250GB SSD

Tier 2 Storage  – RAID 1 using 2 x HP 72GB 10K SAS

vSwitch 1 – 2 x NIC’s for Management traffic up linked to HP v1910 24G

vSwitch 2 – 2 x NIC’s for vMotion up linked directly to ESXi02

vSwitch 3 – 4 x NIC’s for Virtual Machine traffic up linked to HP v1910 24G

Configuration – ESXi02

The plan is to boot ESXi from internal SD card and use RAID 1 local storage.

Tier 2 Storage –  RAID 1 using 2 x HP 72GB 10K SAS

Tier 3 Storage  – RAID 1 using 2 x HDS 1TB 7.2K SATA

vSwitch 1 – 2 x NIC’s for Management traffic up linked to HP v1910 24G

vSwitch 2 – 2 x NIC’s for vMotion up linked directly to ESXi02

vSwitch 3 – 4 x NIC’s for Virtual Machine traffic up linked to HP v1910 24G

This is the logical design for the upgraded vmfocus.com lab

VMFocus DL380 G6

You might be thinking this doesn’t give me HA or certain DRS features.  You would be right in saying that.  When the budget allows, I will buy a shared storage platform.

Fingers crossed I should have this up and running within the next few weeks.

Moving On

Today is my last day at Mirus IT, the last four years with the business have been some of the best, yeah I know it sounds corny, but it really has.

Mirus is a dynamic business and as such have supported me in everything I wanted to learn and have allowed me to go out and design and install some awesome customer solutions, such as:

  • Datacenter consolidation projects
  • Replicated HP 3PAR SAN’s
  • More Lefthands, oops I mean StoreVirtual than I care to remember
  • DR with Site Recovery Manager
  • Veeam Backup & DR Backup (essentially backups available in DR)
  • Exchange DAG’s
  • SQL Clusters
  • VPLS/MPLS solutions
  • Clustered Cisco ASA Firewalls
  • Network transformation projects, extended VLAN’s across non geographic locations
  • VMware Horizon View

The list goes, on, as with any business they have some great people, a few of which I would consider friends, in engineering, sales and pre-sales.  These are the people who make going to work even more fun.

So why have I decided to end this chapter? Well it’s time to depart on a ‘high note’ four years is a long time and I feel that Mirus have had the best from me and I have given the best to them.  I feel that when you are an employee, you need to recognize when you will potentially stagnate and either decided to accept this or move on to do something new.

An opportunity arose at SCC to join them as a Solution Architect.  If you aren’t aware SCC are Europe’s largest independent technology solutions provider.

So what will I be doing at SCC? Well I will be working with a group of Solution Architects engaging in pre-sales activities designing solutions for customers with a focus on vSphere/Horizon View/Workspace and naturally the networking, storage and applications that come with them, something I’m looking forward to getting stuck into.

SCC have already exceeded my expectations by arranging a ‘welcome’ evening drinks so that I could meet the ‘team’ before I started, something which on reflection isn’t generally done by most employers.  I’m sure most of you have had the same experience as me, the first day you meet HR and go over the obligatory manual handling procedures and then you meet colleagues over the coming days, weeks and months.

The new challenge starts next Monday 19th, it’s going to be epic!

Pre Sales – Design Considerations

Following on from the previous blog post ‘Whats This Pre Sales Thing All About?‘ which was aimed at understanding what a Pre Sales Engineer does, I thought it would be relevant to put together a blog post on the design considerations.

This isn’t meant to be a technical post, more so, what are the infrastructure pieces you should be questioning, so that your solution isn’t missing any essential pieces.  This isn’t going to be a complete coverall, but hopefully should send you down the right path and get you asking more questions about your design!

Business Considerations

Generally speaking, I normally lead with business considerations, this is trying to understand what the client is trying to achieve, essentially, what are you looking to achieve and anything that could influence the design.

  1. What is the business driver behind the work?
  2. Does the business have to comply with any legislation?
  3. Does the business comply with any governance such as infrastructure security risk policies?
  4. Does the business have plans for contraction or expansion over the next three to five years?
  5. Will the business be opening any new offices?
  6. Is the business considering any mergers or take overs?
  7. What growth is required from the infrastructure in terms of capacity and performance
  8. Anything else you think we should be made aware off?


These are often the reason you are sitting in front of the customer having a discussion about the infrastructure required for the new piece of software.

  1. List your applications in terms of priority.
  2. How long can these applications be out of action?
  3. Are you adding any new applications?
  4. What are the application inter dependencies?
  5. What applications are you upgrading/changing?
  6. Are any applications latency sensitive?
  7. Does application clustering need to be considered?
  8. How is the application going to be packaged?
  9. How is the application going to be delivered to the users device?
  10. How is the application going to be managed ongoing?


The network is key, always consider optimal routing paths e.g. if you have a managed firewall at a colo, but your DMZ sits in production.  Consider having a firewall in production for the DMZ so that traffic from WAN > DMZ > LAN doesn’t trombone the VPLS/MPLS.

  1. What VLAN’s/subnet’s are used and for what purpose?
  2. What is the bandwidth between sites?
  3. What is the latency between sites?
  4. Are links Layer 2 or Layer 3?
  5. What routing protocols are used?
  6. Is QoS being used?
  7. What are you using for DHCP at each site, are relays in place?
  8. Does remote access need to be considered? If so who requires it?
  9. Is clientless access a requirement for remote access?
  10. Is two factor authentication a requirement?
  11. Does a reverse proxy need to be included to facilitate software such as Lync?
  12. Do load balancers (local/global) need to be considered?
  13. Are HA firewalls required with no session loss?
  14. Is IDS required?
  15. Are diverse WAN links required at all sites?
  16. What encryption/authentication is required for VPN’s?
  17. Does the encryption domain needed to be NAT’d?
  18. Is LACP being used between Core and Edge switches?
  19. Would stretching VLAN’s help the design for backups, replication, WAN failure?
  20. Are enough network ports available?


Almost as key as networking, consider your performance and capacity requirements now and also for the future.

  1. What capacity is required?
  2. What are the back end/front end IOPS?
  3. What latency is required?
  4. What is the read/write ratio and the write penalty?
  5. Is snapshot/replication needed if so does it need to be ‘sync’ or ‘a sync’?
  6. Can the SAN grow to meet the capacity/performance requirements?
  7. What availability does the SAN need to provide e.g. does it need to be clustered?
  8. Does the customer have an existing iSCSI/Fabric switches that can be utilized?
  9. Does block size need to be adjusted?
  10. Is VAAI a requirement?
  11. Is Thin Provisioning supported and can the SAN stay thin using T10 UNMAP?
  12. Is de-duplication a consideration?
  13. Does an existing SAN need to be decommissioned? If so how are the volumes/data going to be migrated?


If the storage and networking are right, then the vSphere design should be a walk in the park.  Remember if you are performing a capacity assessment on a Windows Server 2003 environment and the customer is moving to Windows Server 2012, then you need to allow for extra to memory/cpu/disk to accommodate this.

Note any items already mentioned in previous sections, should also be considered for the vSphere environment.

  1. What redundancy is required? N+1, N+2 etc
  2. How many vCenter’s are needed?
  3. What database is going to be used for vCenter components?
  4. How many hosts are needed?
  5. How many virtual machines will be required?
  6. What is the memory overhead of the VM’s?
  7. Are queue depths a consideration? (How many VM’s will be placed on each datastore)
  8. Moving from VMFS3 to VMFS5?
  9. Considering host evacuation is scale up or out right?
  10. How are the hosts going to be patched?
  11. What permissions are required for vCenter?
  12. What service accounts are required to run all vCenter components?
  13. What networking is required at vSwitch level? LACP, Route based on virtual NIC load?
  14. Do we need to pass any devices through to VM’s directly?
  15. Do any VM’s require high performance/low latency guarantees?
  16. Are resource pools required?
  17. How is the vSphere environment going to be monitored?
  18. How may NIC’s are required for LAN,DMZ,WAN,iSCSI,NFS,vMotion,FT, Management?
  19. What identity sources are required for SSO?
  20. Do the default vCenter certificates need to be replaced?
  21. Which HA policy is most suitable?
  22. Do Storage DRS rules need to be considered?
  23. What Anti Affinity and Affinity rules are required?
  24. What firewall rules are required?
  25. What VM’s need to be restarted in what order if a failure occurs?
  26. Does VM monitoring need to implemented?
  27. How are alerts going to be generated?
  28. Where are any ISO’s etc going to be held?
  29. Is network traffic management or optimization required?
  30. Is boot from SAN a requirement?
  31. Is link state tracking required for downstream ports?
  32. Do MTU’s need to be considered?
  33. Does EVC mode need to be enabled?
  34. How many VM templates are needed?
  35. What VMDK types will be needed, Thick Eager Zeroed, Lazy Zeroed, Thin?


You have this ‘shiny’ new infrastructure how is going to be backed up?

  1. What RPO/RTO is required?
  2. Does the 3 backup copies, 2 onsite, 1 offsite rule apply?
  3. What’s the backup windows (if any)?
  4. What backup media is going to be used?
  5. What types of backups are required, full, incremental, differential, reverse etc?
  6. How are the backups going to get from source to destination?
  7. What backup throughput is needed?
  8. What impact can backups have on production servers during working hours?
  9. Do backups need to be available in DR?
  10. Does backup validation need to be considered (will the backups work if needed)?


This is one of the broadest subjects that can be narrowed down quickly by asking the right questions.

  1. What is the impact to the business if you aren’t able to work for 24, 48 and 72 hours?
  2. Does all of data need to be available in DR?
  3. Do all the servers need to be able to run in DR?
  4. Do you need the ability to perform test failovers?
  5. What is the data change rate?
  6. What is the time frame allowed to have users up and working in DR?
  7. What percentage of users need to work in DR?
  8. What severs need to be running DR on a permanent basis e.g. SQL, vCenter, DC
  9. Are you willing to accept a performance hit in DR?
  10. How are you going to failover services such as email/remote access?
  11. Will the servers subnets/IP address’s/default gateway/DNS need to change?