Deleting a Workload Domain in VCF on VxRail

Warning: Check Solve before reading.

This Blog comes with a health warning! This is not to be consumed by customers directly. This is not a procedure for them to use in VCF on VxRail environments at this time. I wrote this as a reminder to myself and for other engineers that might need to perform the task in demo or POC environments. Always check Solve Online and download the current procedure for any tasks you might want to perform. If there isnt a procedure to perform the tasks in Solve then you may need to check if you are authorized to perform the task.

Always check Solve Online for the correct procedure for any tasks. If its not listed, you many not be authorized to perform the task!

VCF on VxRail is a white glove experience.

One of the advantages of using VxRail as the infrastructure for VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF on VxRail) is the simplified and automated processes that the engineered appliance brings to bear. This solution is a white glove experience for customers as only qualified and experienced installers perform the Day Zero deployment activities. Configuration is automated and validated to remove the chance of human error. Once VCF is deployed, many of the manual tasks that could be difficult are automated by SDDC Manager. Deleting a Workload Domain is one of those workflows.

Once a Workload Domain is deployed, you will see the option to Delete the Workload Domain, ever wondered what this does?

Warning! Deleting a WLD is permanent.

Once you select the Delete Workload Domain workflow from the current inventory, you are presented with a popup warning. I highly recommend you read carefully exactly what this message says as the process is irreversible. As the warning suggests the entire Workload Domain will be removed and deleted. This includes VSAN as well as the vCenter and NSX Manager and NSX Controllers associated with this Workload Domain.

Don’t click past this warning message!
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VxRail Makes LCM Great (Again)

VxRail LCM updates are a huge differentiation to any other HCI competitor since it includes the entire stack in a single bundle file; Hardware, hyper-visor and software on top!

New LCM Changes for VxRail in 4.7.300.

There is now a new Updates Tab for VxRail LCM (Life Cycle Management). I gave this feedback way back when the first HTML5 plugin for VxRail came out. The link to check for updates was tiny and easily missed hidden away in the System tab. VxRail LCM updates are a huge differentiation to any other HCI competitor since it includes the entire stack in a single bundle file; Hardware, hyper-visor and software on top! I wrote previously about the VxRail LCM process and why it matters to HCI solutions here.

Aaron Buley was quicker than me in digging into the latest LCM improvements.

Updates Tab embedded in H5 client

The new Updates tab integrated in vSphere H5 client. So much nicer and easier to find!

The update tab gives you quick access to view the current version of ESX, vCenter and the VxRail Manager itself. The tab for Internet Upgrade is here, where you can automatically pull the latest bundle. VxRail Manager will check for VxRail LCM bundles and alert you when its available.

Applying a local bundle in offline mode.

Schedule updates and find out how long they will take.

You do not have to be online to update the cluster, you may be required to run the cluster as a dark site and manually apply updates in the Local Updates tab. This is also a great way to control which bundle you want to apply rather than take the most recent version. Some customers prefer to plan updates in a more controlled manner, and stay a version or two behind.

it is now possible to schedule an update to run in future right from the GUI interface. This means you have time to plan an update to happen out of hours and you dont have to be there to kick it off. Customers were also asking for a way to estimate how long a bundle update would take. This is built in now as well showing Minimum Estimated Time.

You can change a scheduled update or even cancel it from the GUI.

What else changed in the VxRail Plugin?

Convert vCenter Mode in GUI form…

The System Tab now has an option to “Convert vCenter mode”. There was a Script available to externalize an embedded vCenter running in VxRail already, but now its built in the GUI. This is super useful for example when customer wants to convert the VC and PSC and connect multiple VxRails to a mgmt cluster. This aligns the deployment with the VVD automatically allowing them to stay fully compliant.

easy button for externalizing the VC and PSC deployed in VxRail.

Simple SSL Certificate Management

There is a new SSL certificate tab in the VxRail plugin. This allows you to easily replace the VxRail Manager SSL Certificate.

Multi-Rack discovery using a proxy node.

There is a feature in VxRail hosts tab to expand an existing cluster to another rack with new unassigned VxRail nodes. The new rack will have its own TOR switches and may be seperated by a different VLAN to the existing cluster.

Its a simple task to declare one of the unassigned nodes to act as a proxy node using this CMD:

esxcli network ip interface ipv4 set -i vmk2 -I <Management IP Address> -N <subnet mask> -t static

Use the GUI as below to declare this new proxy at the cluster. The proxy node will transmit details of all unassigned nodes in the 2nd rack. Proceed to expand cluster by adding these new nodes as before.

ACE gets top billing now.

If you don’t know what ACE is all about yet, then pop over to this blog i wrote earlier explaining all about it. ACE is getting new updates every couple weeks now (its running on the Pivotal engine so you know its going to be adding new features fast! There is a link to the ACE FAQ in the Support Tab so that customers can quickly get connected and up and running. ACE is still free for customers.

Traffic throttle between VxRail and vCenter

Physical View of appliances now in H5!

No longer do we need to link and launch to access the Physical View of our VxRail appliance nodes. Everything is embedded in the HTML5 interface. My good buddy Jeremy Merrill wrote up an excellent blog already detailing this why not check it out.

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Kubernetes and Kommunity!

Ireland VMware User Group: Kubernetes, k8s, Kubernetes!

I will give you three guesses what the September Ireland VMware User Group meeting in Dublin was all about. The VMUG event was packed with updates on Kubernetes, vSphere, and VMworld. It was standing room only from the start. The VMUG organizers moved everyone to a bigger room after the first session! Cormac Hogan began his own session by reminding everyone that VMUG is all about the community, all about the users. He would rather see end-users on the VMUG stage presenting how they used VMware solutions to solve problems, rather than only vendors sales pitches. All of the VMware presenters sessions were excellent, but i have to agree, the best session of the day came from the vCommunity.

VMUG is about vCommunity

The VMUG community session was presented by two community members from AIB. It was the last session of the day and the room was still full. The presenter from AIB asked the room, “How many of you look after infrastructure?”. I think almost every hand in the room shot up. This was in contrast to an earlier VMware presenter that had asked, “How many people are using Kubernetes?”. Very few hands went up that time. The presenter acknowledged Kubernetes was like teenage sex, it seems like a lot of people are talking about it but few are implementing it. Yet!

Ireland VMUG VMware User Group

The presenter from AIB went on to describe how they had considered many different vendors and solutions on their digital transformation journey. AIB needed a new modern infrastructure strategy that worked for both Developers and Operators. They would need to maintain legacy applications they had and be able to pivot to new app development methods. They had decided that HCI was the answer for their infrastructure and they choose VxRack powered by VxRail. The best part of the session covered how they sold this new vision back to the business and were able to convince the board to make the new investment needed. It was very interesting to see how a business oriented session drew as much engagement as technology deep-dive one.

@edhoppitt says #RunAllTheThings

Ed Hoppitt from VMware kicked off the opening keynote. Ed works on the Modern Apss & Cloud Native Platforms team. He began by talking about innovation and how companies need different skillsets to innovate. He detailed the Pioneers, Settlers and Town Planners concept very well. I had read about this originally from the great Simon Wardley.

consistent infrastructure vS[here VMware

Ed had an excellent one-slide that illustrated how VMware is enabling customers Digital Transformation journey from traditional to cloud native applications. The slide described how vSphere and Consistent Infrastructure could cover everything from traditional to micro-services and cloud native. Ed talked about how a UK Finance company was using multi-cloud to satisfy governance rules. They needed to leverage multiple clouds and be able to shift from one cloud to another in less than 30 days. This is the true multi-cloud nirvana and a really great use case.

VMworld 2019 Recap by @rsudding

Project Pacific and VMware Tanzu
Build ! Run! Manage!

Ryan Sudding from Vmware was up next. He is a regular Ireland VMware User Group advocate and supporter. Ryan had the mammoth task of breaking down everything that was announced at VMworld in San Francisco. Ryan talked about VMware’s strategy to transform how customers Build, Run and Manage software on Kubernetes. He talked about the new acquisitions that complement this strategy including Bitnami, Pivotal and Heptio and the announcements around Project Pacific and Tanzu.

At VMUG if you aren’t networking your doing it wrong.

At the break I got the chance to sit down with Cormac Hogan for lunch. We were joined by Jason Pearse and Dean Lewis from VMware. We are all in the Dell Technologies family now so its great to chat about what is going on in VMware and Dell EMC. Dean is active on twitter and has an excellent blog running here.  The conversation at lunch was really all about Project Pacific, Kubernetes, and VCF on VxRail. The future is bright! I also met up with Rob from Asystec as well as a friend I had not met up with my Y2K IT days. Small world, small vCommunity.

@CormacJHogan vSAN and Kubernetes

VMware User Group Dublin

Cormac Hogan continued the trend of the day by talking about Kubernetes in his session. Cormac is a well known speaker and expert on vSAN. He started by covering the What’s New in VSAN 6.7u3. This included new features for Enhanced Performance, Intelligent Operations and Unified Management. The second part of the session was a high-level explanation of using vSAN as persistent storage for Kubernetes. He pointed out that everything in his session can be accessed on Storage Hub which is a great resource.

Cormac continued to give an update on vSphere Cloud Native Storage (CNS). He was sporting a CNS t-shirt therefore he must know his stuff. The content of this session is covered here in a blog. He finished up with a demo of CNS and briefly covered vSAN Native File Services. Cormac asked the audience what protocols they would like to see made available for vNFS next. The audience answers fell roughly inline with expectaions; NFS v3 then SMB followed by S3.

@opowero Kubernetes: Smooth Operators

Kubernetes Operators

Olive Power worked formerly at Heptio and now works at VMware. She presented the last session which was titled Smooth Operators: A rough guide to Kubernetes Operators. Olive blogs a bit about Kubernetes and Operators here. Olives session covered why we use Kubernetes; to reduce complexity, shorten release and test cycles. This is done by breaking up monolithic application architectures into micro-services and requires different/better tooling. The role of Kubernetes is to maintain the desired state. That way it can be self-healing for Containers and Applications running on K8s. Olive explained how Kubernetes is extensible and the role that Operators have on making it easier to deploy applications. She referenced a couple places to learn more about this topic: Awesome Operators and OperatorHub.io.

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I was rejected (again) for vExpert, should i just give up?

My rocky road to vExpert

vexpert advice
Rejected this time for vExpert? Don’t give up!

I wanted to tell my vExpert story. It is not a nice story about how I submitted the perfect application and nailed it first try. Its about how I was rejected on my first and my second attempt. Its how i kept that rejection secret and told no one, instead of getting vExpert advice. I really felt i had let myself down. The story has a nice ending for me. Because after getting a lot of help from the vCommunity, i was finally successful on my third try! I figured it was a good time to write this blog on the anniversary of my first (or was it my second?) failed submission.

Attend a local VMUG

What I learned was that being a vExpert meant you should be party of the community. If you aren’t participating in the community then why would you want to be a vExpert in the first place? I had not attended a VMUG before my first application. Seriously, what was i thinking? I had plenty pf excuses for why I had not gone to one. Its too far away. I don’t know anyone going. I have a meeting scheduled that day. Stop. These are terrible excuses. Go to a VMUG. Speak at a VMUG. Help out at a VMUG. Join the community and play a part in it. No matter how small, there is something you can do. The best part of attending the VMUG is the people you meet. This leads on to the next bit of advice.

Look for a Sponsor

I started my vExpert journey in total secret for fear of rejection and public humiliation. I look back on my first pitiful application and realize i would have rejected me too. Although I had friends in VMware I refused to ask them for help at first. When I was trying for the third time I finally decided to ask for help from a sponsor and get a reference. I waited for the reply nervously and was over the moon when i got back a positive response.

Contact a local vExpert Pro.

On my third attempt, I also reached out to one of the vExpert Pro’s for my country (Ireland). I asked them to review my draft vExpert application. They gave me really great vExpert advice and encouragement. Leave this task until after you have put together the final submission. Do not expect the vExpert PRO to write your application for you. The best advice he shared was make sure my focus was on helping the community.

Study the example vExpert Application.

There is a great example vExpert application up on the vExpert portal. Read this application and think about how your own application might look. Obviously do not try and copy this content word for word. Anything you write about will be “checked out” so stick to the facts. The example is a good guide for the level of detail that you should include. I realized that my bullet point list was too short, and i needed to expand on the impact of things i was claiming credit for. The advice i still remember was to focus on the community. You can always be doing more, you just need to find your niche and what way you are naturally good at helping others. Then tell them about it in the application!

Read Blogs. Listen to Podcasts.

What I didn’t realize is vExperts want to help you out. They really want you to succeed. It doesn’t take much searching in the blogsphere to find great tips and advice to get you started from these people. One of my best bits of vExpert advice when you starting out your application is to listen to the VMware Communities Roundtable Podcast. Episode #451 is literally “How to do a great vExpert application” with Corey Romero. This is well worth a listen as it gives specific detail into the voting process and how much weight they assign to different content. Speaking about content…

Create a Blog. Join a Podcast.

I chose to start a blog. Well this blog actually. I wrote my first few blogs as part of the #BlogtoberTEch challenge. This was just the kickstart I needed just before my third application. You might not be a blogger, that’s OK too. You might not be a blogger, that’s OK too. Have you made any podcast recordings yet? You don’t have to start your own Podcast. It is easy to get invited as a guest to a podcast if you try. I have been lucky to have made a few podcast friends and been able to go on as a guest. One of the best ways to do this easily is to volunteer to present a topic you are an expert at. They can only say no!

More options for content.

There are lots of options for content creation. I cannot list them all. You may even think of a new and unique way to create something that the community is lacking. Seek out opportunities to join in the community and help out in other ways. You could always contribute to public forums. Slack channels are another way you could potentially be active. There is of course twitter and social media options. But as the podcast above will tell you, you don’t get a lot of points for retweeting other vExpert advice. Talk about your own opinion based on your experience. If you have content that is not public you can always submit offline content example’s, agendas, etc. If you think you have enough content already, then start that vExpert application.

Apply again and improve it.

My final word of advice should be obvious. If you are rejected do not give up. Take pause and look back objectively on your contribution to the community. Could you have done more? Keep track of your past applications. Start a list of goals and look back monthly. What more did you do since last month? Can you do more next month? Write your application offline, keep a copy of the online application, improve it every time you submit. Best of luck to you and hit me up with a tweet or a comment if this blog helped you at all.

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The best HCI appliance just got better. Introducing ACE

VxRail had an ACE up its sleeve: Data.

Every day data is generated on the health, performance and consumption of customers VxRail VSAN clusters. This data can be sent back to Dell Technologies using Secure Remote Support (SRS) and customers benefit from an improved support experience. SRS can be used to send a heartbeat and create automated alerts and to allow remote access when needed. The VxRail team store this telemetry info in a support cloud and built a platform to run analytics against this rich data set. This gives support the ability to see common issues across different customers configurations. They have now enabled a front end interface to this data lake called ACE (Analytical Consulting Engine). ACE allows customers access to their own hci appliance data including CPU, memory, storage and VM details.

ACE for existing customers no extra cost

The first phase of the ACE project comes for free to existing VxRail customers. So if you are already using SRS and sending heartbeat data home then you just need access to login to the VxRail portal. Enabling SRS is really easy using a virtual appliance and your Dell EMC support account logon and Site ID. If you didn’t deploy this initially, I highly recommend installing it now. It takes no time at all.

ACE global dashboard for all sites

What if you have multiple sites with multiple clusters? The ACE dashboard provides a simple interface to view all your sites and clusters easily at a glance. Drill down from location to Cluster to individual nodes and VMs. Customers have loved the VxRail appliance experience. Some of the largest customers have said they only thing they have been missing is a VxRail manager of managers. In future, ACE will be the answer for them.

Cluster health scores made simple

ACE uses the data collected from SRS and continually monitors the health of a customers cluster. ACE will present a health score that is easy to understand at a glance. “VxRail ACE provides a health score for you entire HCI appliance stack. Allowing you to proactively address trouble spots that may affect delivery of services. Customers can efficiently scale their HCI based on the projected growth of IT needs.” You can learn more about ACE capability in this overview here, and also find instructions on how to get connected.

How do you polish a diamond?

The VxRail team have been on an amazing tear for the last few years. They have listened to customer need and are releasing new features on a regular cadence to improve upon an already great solution. The team have stayed clearly focused on making VxRail the only appliance for VMware VSAN the best experience for customers. They did it by offering a solution to offload from infrastructure teams as much work as a any customer will allow them. Tasks like configuration, sizing, deployment as well as day 2 ops including automated full stack patching are handled by the appliance now. This reduces risks and allows those infrastructure teams to focus their energies around projects the business wants and needs. No one ever gets a pat on the back for managing infrastructure!

Where can you see ACE and learn more?

I was lucky to get to meet some of the ACE product team in Vegas at Dell Technologies World this year. I learned about the current technology and the future exciting roadmap for ACE right there at the Meet The Experts zone. As soon as I got back home to the Customer Solution Center I made sure to get my VxRail HCI appliance configured and setup for customers to test drive. As new features are added to the platform we will be able to show off the capability immediately.

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VxRail SmartFabric networking for Day 2 Ops

Step 1: Enable SmartFabric Services on the ToR Switch

Step 2: Deploy VxRail Cluster incl. ToR with VxRail Manager

Step 3: Deploy the SmartFabric OMNI plugin in VMware vSphere

Step 4: Virtualization engineer controls Day 2 Ops for the Full Stack

Network Admins calm down and look here.

The network admins are not usually in favor of anything that replaces their day to day jobs. If you can show them the finished solution, you may be able to sway them in favour. Make sure to give them a demo of the OMNI plugin running inside vSphere using VxRail SmartFabric enabled switches.

Click into the Omni dashboard.

The OMNI dashboard displays the current information on the VxRail SmartFabric enabled Switches. Here the Virtualization engineer has visibility to the OS10 version and the VLANS currently setup. That’s it? Not sure what NetAdmin Ned was expecting but there is no Network-Chaos-Now button!

Lets give Ned a use-case for SmartFabrics

You can describe a scenario to Ned that is common. It’s time to add a new host to the existing cluster. Normally you would ask Ned to prepare the host network ports. He would label them add all the required VLANS and to make sure the settings match with the existing host ports.

New Hosts detected with VxRail SmartFabric

With SmartFabrics no need to bother Ned

Adding hosts to HCI clusters are now done solely by the Virtualization Admin without any need to ask the NetAdmin to prepare host ports. It is all taken care of automatically by the VxRail SmartFabric services and the OMNI plugin.

Choose the discovered host.

Choose the discovered VxRail host

Enter vCenter credentials.

vCenter credentials

Add the Ip address information.

configure ip address

Run validation.

Validate the VxRail SmartFabric hosts

Validation must pass first.

validation can catch human errors

Once passed, host is added automatically.

new hosts added automatically to VxRail SmartFabric cluster

Watch quick Ned! Ports are configured.

hosts connected to VxRail SmartFabric are automatically configured

Hands free with VxRail SmartFabric services.

vSphere automation for VxRail SmartFabric
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Let’s get technical and Meet The Experts at DTW 2019

So you went to Vegas on (airquotes) a work trip yeah?

What on earth was I doing in Vegas last week? My friends and family think I’m off on a holiday without my wife and stare blankly in disbelief when I say i was there for work. Anyone in the Tech Conference business knows about Dell Technologies World, however I still need to be able to elevator pitch exactly what my role was for the week. The answer essentially? I was working the Meet The Experts Zone for Hyperconverged solutions and delivering Design Sessions on Smart Fabrics and 2-Node for VxRail. Sound interesting? If you want to hear a little more I give you two options. Listen to the podcast myself and Paul Wynne recorded with Barry Coombs Live at the show, or read on and Ill try and make it real for you.

Meet The Experts and Hands on Labs

The Hands on Labs area needs little introduction. Want to get Hands-On with the solutions sold by Dell Technologies? The Demo Center team have taken their Demo catalog on the road to Vegas. You can choose from the extensive catalog and sit down at a station and follow a guide or explore a new technology at your own pace. This is a pretty amazing capability that is also available post-show and the team that bring it all together are some of the hardest working and darn clever people I have met at DT.

If you look to the left of the HOL zone entrance, you cant help but notice a newly re-designed and well branded Meet The Experts area developed by the Customer Solutions Center team. Here there exist two offerings the Meet The Experts “Guru” Bar and the Design Sessions rooms.

Meet The Experts “Guru Bar”

On the far wall facing the HOL zone you can see 6 high tables with what looks like bartenders waiting for customers to place orders. The tables are made of whiteboard and the bartenders are holding pens serving knowledge not cocktails. This area is first come first served and staffed round the clock by various experts across topics like Storage, Data Protection, Hyperconverged, Multi-Cloud, VDI, IOT, A.I. and Surveillance solutions. Most of the time the sessions were quick and the customers questions were deeper and technical in nature. The experts had no idea what or who would walk up looking for info so the atmosphere was pretty electric and fast-paced.

MTE Design Session Rooms

In addition to the adhoc sessions at the Bar, several of the Customer Solutions Center experts designed a powerpoint-free session for up to 12 people that could be booked in advance. These sessions were focused around specific topics and leveraged a digital whiteboard. The sessions were interactive because the audience was small and the presenters were able to answer questions from the customers in attendance. Quite often the questions would dictate the direction the session would take, rather than following a set path.

So how did we do?

The team that designed the area put a lot of thought into creating an experience that was a living breathing example of what happens 365 days a year across the Customer Solutions Centers. The data is still flowing in but by all accounts we smashed last years numbers and the feedback we are hearing from all across the organization is that the conversations were deeper, more focused and better serving to Dell Technologies customers right across the board. Personally I am well proud to have played a small part in the success of the event and I am excited to see where the brand and vision takes us.

This all looks very familiar.

It isn’t by chance that the Meet The Experts “Guru Bar” has a very familiar look and feel to VMworld Barcelona. I wrote about my experience there back in November. I came home from that event, wrote up a report, and gave my opinion to anyone that would listen. We had to do something similar for Dell Technologies World 2019. In past years we did have a similar area, but the brand wasn’t as strong and the area didn’t “catch the eye”. I have to admit our management team went leaps and bounds above expectations to create a powerful presence at the show that anyone working there could be proud of being a part of!

Experts from across Dell Technologies always meet at Meet The Experts Zone
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Look after your Mental Health: Start an OK Club

Are you feeling overwhelmed?

My mind is still spinning down post Dell Technologies World 2019 and I’m facing the challenge anyone that attends work conferences must be facing. Do I keep the momentum from the crazy full-on world of Vegas conference life and capture ALL my great thoughts, or do i pause and let my body finally recharge. There is a temptation to fight the bodies natural routines, and to artificially extend creative time. This could push me into a danger zone that might have after effects on my own mental health.

Pausing is not quitting.

I start to get worried about this decision and the fear of missing out starts to overwhelm me. I want to do right by myself and start to recharge, but I see other peers that are more successful and i think what would they do? Quitters never win right?

As I rush off to the airport with this in mind, i bring the notepad and pen with me just in case. I guess that’s my decision made. Heading for the lobby I discover by pure chance a close friend and colleague is heading home at the same time so we agree to meet and share an Uber to the airport. On the ride we reminisce on the great times of the past week and as we chat we discover we are both wrestling the same problem.

It’s OK to Talk.

My friend reveals that recently he faced some serious work related issues that thankfully he is well past, but that he struggled alone for almost a year and it badly affected health and happiness. I was shocked, I didn’t realize anything was amiss. He looked like he was busy sure, but I thought he was taking it all in stride. When I told him that I didn’t know and I was sorry for not noticing he admitted he may have put up a facade. As we talked we wondered if anyone else in our field that we knew could be going through the same suffering in silence torture? How could we break the cycle? How could we prevent the problem starting with some preventative measures? What even are they?

Start an OK Club for Mental Health.

So we decided to start an OK Club. This is a safe place to reach out and be able to talk openly, a place of trust and honesty. This is an agreement to look out for one another, a buddy system similar to SCUBA diving. Our OK Club has only 3 members for now, someday there may be a need for more, but 3 is good start. Nothing prevents you from being in more than one club either, just make sure you are not just supporting others, but are also supported by others yourself.

I went googling for some info around Mens Mental Health and came across #AndysMansClub. It is an eerily similar concept that started after a tragic young man committed suicide. They even made a logo related to the OK signal and used the #ItsOkToTalk. Even after being featured in TheLadBible and being promoted by some famous people on twitter. I can honestly say i had never heard of it.

I am glad I know about it now, and I’m glad I have the support of an OK club. Look out for each other, form one, join one. If you don’t have someone close to you that you can open to, please find someone

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Vegas Tips and Tricks, Dell Tech World 2019

Are you going to @DellTechWorld ? Interested in #VxRail or SmartFabric networking? Register for a session and we can have a chat! https://buff.ly/2DnzECu 

Its vendor conference season again, are your ready? Accommodation booked, event ticket snagged and you have your aisle seat reserved on the flight, now what else do you need…

Preparing before you go.

Don’t keep it a secret that you are going to the conference! OK you don’t have to brag about it on social, especially if your security conscious and your home is going to be empty, but make sure your network knows you are going. This is a chance to plan ahead and make appointments with people you want to target for face time. You may only see some of these people at events once or twice a year, make the most of it. Don’t just ask them to visit you at a booth, make the effort to seek them out.

Set yourself reminders of lists of people you want to meet, seek out their sessions if they are speakers or find out where they will be and doorstep them! I always keep an ear out for recommended sessions or good speakers and try and see them. Support others that are going to the event, they will support you back.

Events like VMworld or DTW always have intimate sessions with smaller audiences. These are a great opportunity to get to make eye contact or even speak with a presenter after the session. This is much harder to do at a keynote. In Barcelona after VMworld I blogged about the Expert Sessions that were bookable. Amazing presenters and tiny audiences. I even found myself in a session where I was the only person that turned up!

Hang around the Podcast tables and see if you can get a spot. Step out of your comfort zone and show everyone you have something to say. If you are worried about content, try something easy like a Tech Confession style podcast, the content is you!

What’s in the phone?

Make sure you have loaded up the essential phone apps for the event, you will not want to lug around a laptop just to check a schedule or confirm a flight.

  • Dell Tech World app is up, be sure to install it and nail down your schedule.
  • Google Maps. This is a must IMHO. Visiting a new city for the event? Download the offline map and get tips and advice from locals on the best places to visit before or after the event kicks into high gear.
  • Travel Apps. All major airlines, Uber or Lyft or a local service. I use TripIt linked to my gmail, handy for itinerary and travel planning. I am trying out Google Trips for the first time this event, good so far!
  • Expenses? Amex and Concur have good apps. Nothing worse than having to dig thru a pile of receipts when you get home. Concur has gotten really smart at creating entries directly from images of receipts.
  • Communications. Nothing worse than being on your own at an event when you want to meet up with friends or contacts. Plan ahead and create WhatsApp groups or use Slack/Teams to reconnect with people. This year we are trying out WhenIWork app that looks pretty powerful, and includes a scheduler for team members.
  • Podcast! No better place to collect new podcasts in your catcher, I use Podcast Addict. You can also try and start your own one using the Anchor app, maybe a roving reporter style?

What’s in the suitcase?

Before you pack you have checked the local weather right? Use YR app and make sure you are covered for all possible seasons as well as a flexible wardrobe for business and casual events. Have you got the right shoes? If you don’t have a comfortable pair, rush out now and buy some. You still have time to get them broken in BEFORE you put them on in Vegas. Dress shoes for the customer dinners, black shoes for booth duty and runners for downtime. I over-pack underwear and socks, never want to run out. Day Shirt and Evening shirt please, let the event dictate the style. Don’t forget to pack a big enough bag for the return trip, especially if you are into collecting swag.

When in Vegas…

It gets harder and harder to snag a ticket if you don’t have a job to do, so more than likely you have some sort of responsibility while you are at the vent. Hopefully in your busy schedule you have been allowed some free time, use it wisely. Don’t just swag hunt, make sure you network, seek out new technology, use the creative space to bounce ideas off others.

There are other things you can do, other than work and attend some sessions. Get a headshot. There is always at least one stand setup to offer free headshots. Plan ahead and where or bring a suitable shirt/jacket/tie/dress combo that will look good. If you fancy something different and are a little shy, try and find a caricature artist that will cartoonize your headshot.

Have you planned for some alone time? Big conferences can be overwhelming, especially for an introvert. Make sure you get some time to empty the head, go for run or hit the gym or just lie down for 20 minutes. Recharge the mind so you can get back in the game.

Go on be social.

There is a temptation to try and attend every social gathering scheduled. Sometimes you will find yourself triple booked as all the evening events seem to be on at the same time. Stick to water and make as many appearances as you can, build that network. But in this section I am not talking about pubs or clubs, I mean of course social media. Even if you aren’t a social ninja and the thoughts of tweeting selfies makes you breakout in hives, i want you to step out of your comfort zone and leverage at least some of these apps.

Buffer. There are multiple tools out there now that will allow you to schedule tweets. Take time to plan ahead and write some before the event. You don’t want to have your head in a phone app when you could be meeting and greeting.

Twitter. This can be a great way to find people as well as let people find you. Find out your conference official hashtags and include them in your tweets. It doesnt take much effort to get up on the Social Media wall of fame and its great for exposure as people walk past. Threaded tweets are great for events, consider using them when you have a lot to say.

LinkedIn. If you have neglected your profile here, now is the time to polish it up. You will be looked up, you will be added by people you meet. Do you have a good title? A clear elevator pitch? LinkedIn is never finished, you can always improve areas of your profile.

The key to surviving Vegas.

Stay hydrated is the most obvious one. Bring a reusable water bottle. Dell Technologies is again this year providing water stations to get a fill up and to conserve plastic waste. The air is so dry there you will literally get Vegas throat or conference cough. Every morning, when you shower, plug the drain and fill up the tub with water, leave it humidify while you are out! At night, take a towel, soak it in the tub and hang it over the air-con vent. Trust me you will sleep better. (credit to @lost_signal for this tip, saved my 1st Vegas).

Even if you don’t make a conscious effort to hit the gym or go for an early morning run, you will do enough walking to burn a LOT of calories. Be smart when you eat the free food provided. There is ALWAYS a healthier option to choose, don’t just fill up on sweets and meat!

Every step you take, and every glass of water you drink will mean you can safely enjoy at least one great meal each day. Do like my good friends @Josephcorreia @livfitz and @VDIallStar  … ignore the travelators and elevators and take the stairs!

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How to deploy the SmartFabric OMNI plugin in VMware vSphere Step 3

Step 1: Enable SmartFabric Services on the ToR Switch

Step 2: Deploy VxRail Cluster incl. ToR with VxRail Manager

Step 3: Deploy the SmartFabric OMNI plugin in VMware vSphere

Next Blog : Step 4: Virtualization engineer controls Day 2 Ops for the Full Stack

Installing the SmartFabric OMNI plugin

At this point we have already run the first two steps to get SmartFabric installed, our Switches have SmartFabric services enabled and the VxRail Manager Gui deployment has automatically configured the switch and disabled the CLI. Now we will add the Open Manage Network Integration or SmartFabric OMNI plugin to vSphere, giving the virtualization engineer full visibility and control of the dedicated HCI switch fabric.

Download the OMNI plugin VM

We begin by deploying the OMNI VM ova, which is available from VMware Solution Exchange here. It seems to bounce you now to the Dell Support site where you can get the latest version here. As of June 2019 the latest version is 1.1.18.

Deploy the OVA

These steps are straightforward. Isn’t great that we can do the OVA deployment thru the HTML5 interface? Be sure to match up the source and destination networks correctly at Step 7 in the process. Later on we will configure an ipv4 address on vCenter network and enable ipv6 on the MGMT network.

Power on the VM and connect to a console on the OMNI vm. You need to establish a password here for the admin user. The default username and default password is setup as admin / admin.

Configure the OMNI appliance

Since this is a first run deployment, we are going to select option “0. Full Setup” at the Menu. As you can see you can re-run and do other admin tasks later if required from this interface.

Before we active the first connection, we will setup the Profile name “vCenter Server Network” and assign a valid ipv4 address for the OMNI VM here.

The second connection is for ipv6 discovery on the VxRail Management network, no ipv4 address needed here.

Be sure to activate both networks on the last screen.

You will be prompted at the CLI again for NTP, SSL Cert, the appliance ip address, FQDN for VCSA, VC Username and Password, and finally the OMNI ip for REST and REST username and password.

Log in and out of vSphere and the OMNI plugin will appear.

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