A few months ago I began my journey to learn Kubernetes, the reason being that, besides it being a controversial technology, it will soon became a “must know” piece of technology for old VMware admins like myself. Project Pacific is a clear indicator that Kubernetes will become a first class citizen in vSphere infrastructure some time in 2020.

I took the Linux Foundation LFS458 Training and I am studying to pass the CKA – Certified Kubernetes Administrator exam. This exam is not based on questions that can be easily answered to with some prior cramming efforts, but it is lab based, with tasks to be completed in a real environment and with the clock ticking fast. So, real hands on experience is needed.

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With the release of vSphere 6.5 there is really no reason anymore to stick with the old school Windows vCenter; finally the vCenter Server Appliance (VCSA) has become a first class citizen and the preferred implementation solution for the most important vSphere infrastructure compnent. This was already made clear by VMware when in 2016 they released a tool to easily migrate a Windows vCenter 5.5 to VCSA 6.0 U2 and with vSphere 6.5 the migration from an older Windows vCenter server is one of the officially supported upgrade paths.

Although not new – it was inherited from v 6.0 – one of the best features of the VCSA 6.5 is it’s ease of upgrade. I tested it myself in the homelab taking advantage of the first maintenance release (6.5a) which was released last week bringing support to NSX 6.3.

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PernixData has announced today the General Availability of both their flagship products, FVP 3.5 and Architect 1.1.

For those not familiar with PernixData technology, FVP is is the world’s first, and only, enterprise-class, server-side storage intelligence platform, embedded in the hypervisor to provide reliable I/O performance enhancements to virtual machines (VMs) on existing primary storage. In a nutshell, PernixData FVP virtualizes server-side flash and server RAM across all hosts, connecting the high-speed server-side resources into existing VM I/O paths, to transparently reduce the IOPS burden on a storage system, de-facto decoupling storage capacity and performances accelerating any VMware based application. Architect provides real-time analytics (descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive) for optimal storage and VM design, acting as a proactive, strategic data center management tool that continually generates new data based on dynamic VM and infrastructure conditions. More »

Today Ravello Systems and Nutanix have announced the availability of Nutanix CE on Ravello’s Smart Labs by means of a jointly developed blueprint.

For those not familiar with any of the two vendors, let me briefly recap for your convenience.

Ravello Systems has developed a product called HVX, which can be defined as a “nested hypervisor” capable of running on top of public clouds like Amazon AWS and/or Google Cloud Engine, together with a proprietary network overlay. This solution is designed to address specific use cases such as Labs, Demo/Sales environments, Dev/Test disposable infrastructures etc; this result is achieved leveraging commodity public clouds but at the same time allowing users to deploy workloads in the very same format they use on their own premises. Therefore the underlying AWS or Google Cloud Engine is completely hidden and not relevant when it comes to design and implement your infrastructure on Ravello’s platform. One interesting point is that VMware ESXi is already supported as a blueprint, so it is possible to deploy nested vSphere labs on top of Ravello’s HVX running inside AWS or Google Cloud Engine. It might sound confusing but it actually isn’t!

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ds713_smallI have recently purchased a Synology DS713+ unit as I needed a reliable storage solution for my new “all physical” vSphere Home Lab. Synology has a great reputation for quality, features and performances and it is one of the manufacturers of choice among home labbers. I was particularly intrigued by the fact that the DS7123+ comes with full VAAI capabilities at a reasonable price (I was able to find it for less than 400 Euros without disks).

I will spare you all the fancy stuff about the unboxing, the initial configuration and the detailed (and indeed impressive) features list and I will go straight to the point: I will show you how I managed to correctly set up a fully VAAI backed iSCSI DataStore for my ESXi 5.5 U1 hosts, after some trial and error: unfortunately the Synology documentation is a bit lacking on this topic and it took me a few attempts before I succeeded to do it correctly.

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This post should hopefully be the first one in a series revolving around my new vSphere homelab. I have been running vSphere nested labs for quite a while, self-built or using the mighty Autolab, but recently I had both the need and the opportunity to put together a small “all-physical” lab. I will publish a post in the coming weeks with more details about its architecture and setup (hey! I’m still building it!) but I decided to pull the trigger and document a little inconvenience I managed to overcome quite easily. I hope you might find this info useful!

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