Clean Coasts : Love Your Coast 2019 Competition

My Clean Coasts submissions this year.

I was not so successful this year in the Clean Coasts photography competition. I didn’t get a single picture into the finalist round this year and i didn’t end up going up for the event. Hoping maybe I will have better luck next year. I was pretty disappointed but looking back my images were not as good as last year and the competition is pretty fierce. Very happy for the friends i knew that got in. Looking forward to catching up at the dive show in March 2020.

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Starting a vExpert Blog : Some tips and advice.

Just do it. Start a Blog. Today.

Stop procrastinating right now and start your vExpert Blog. This is the quickest way to get involved in the vCommunity. It doesn’t require any travel, and you don’t have to conquer your fear of public speaking. You only need to find a place to publicly share your ramblings and there is lots of choice there. From using a service like Medium, or publishing directly on LinkedIN you can get started almost immediately. If you want a little more control of where your content is hosted, then maybe starting a WordPress blog is for you. That’s what I ended up doing and I never looked back! Here is my advice on why I did it and some tips on the most useful Plugins i use for my vExpert Blog and why I use them.

Why I started a blog.

VMware vExpert

Why did I start writing a blog in the first place? The main reason I started a blog was to complete the #BlogtoberTech 2018 challenge. I had always threatened to start a blog and this gave me the motivation i needed to buckle down and get it done. Secondly I was looking for a way to publicly give back to the vCommunity in a way that was measurable. I wanted to include it in my vExpert application and improve my own personal brand. What I did not realize was how much I would enjoy doing it. I have found blogging to be a great tool for organizing my ideas, and capturing key concepts that i will later present to customers. Before i started blogging my ideas were lost on the back of napkins, buried in A4 diaries or spread out across multiple OneNote entries.

Blogging to help your presenting.

Strangely enough I find that blogging actually helps my public speaking. The best advice I ever got around how to give better presentations was to start with an agenda. I used to just get on stage and wing it. I was notorious for drifting from one idea to the next with very little structure and no beginning, middle or end in sight! If you get up in front of an audience, you only have a few seconds of attention span before their eyes start to glaze over and they get that far-away look. When you write or blog, your audience is similar, you just don’t see them when they get bored and click past! I find blogging is one way to organize my thoughts and to put some structure around my ideas.

Capture ideas in WordPress not OneNote.

I have started writing directly in WordPress. Once I started writing directly into WordPress I found it much easier and quicker to get the blog to published status. Write it and walk away, save it in drafts. Sometimes you will come back to it and delete it, other times you will finish it. The default WordPress editor interface is simple to use. You don’t want to get distracted with lots of tools for formatting and layout, just a quick way to get your ideas down on the page. Sometimes all you need to kickstart a new vExpert blog is editor time. There is a handy WordPress app for mobile devices that you can use when on the go.

5 Best Plugins for WordPress Blogs

There are a ton of free and paid WordPress plugins available in the marketplace. You can browse directly from the WordPress Admin console. They have lists of Featured, Popular and Recommended Plugins, or you can search for a topic and see what is out there. For example I needed an SSL cert solution for my WordPress site and I didn’t want to pay for a Certificate.

Free SSL Certificate for WordPress

Using this plugin you can finally setup your site to be secure. You may not be reaching all your audience if you don’t enable SSL as many browsers will not even let your readers in. This Plugin enables you to use the free Certificate Authority from LetsEncrypt.org. The process to request and renew certificates can be handled directly from the Plugin interface. It’s free to use, but the author gives you a button to donate coffee. No self respecting vExpert blog is complete without https!

JetPack by WordPress.com

This is a very powerful plugin for your WordPress site. It has features to help prevent unwanted spam, security against brute-force attacks and has site accelerator for serving your images through a global CDN. Some of the basic features are free but you can upgrade paid-for options as well. There are Personal, Premium and Professional options with different features.

reSmush.it Image Optimizer

Do you like to include pictures with your blog writing? Then I highly recommend using a plugin that will optimize your images. reSmush.it is a free plugin that automatically compresses your images so that your site doesn’t start to crawl. If it takes too long for your blog to load, then your visitors will not hang around waiting.

Yoast SEO

Even if you are a total novice and have no idea what SEO is – you are going to want this plugin. Search Engine Optimization is a vast topic. Some people make their living providing services to help websites rank highest in searches. You don’t have to spend hours keeping up with the latest techniques if you install Yoast. The plugin will make suggestions and recommendations on how to simply improve your content. This will help to get that blog ranking to the first page in google search results. Must have!

Google Analytics Dashboard for WP

How can you improve if you don’t measure? I use both JetPack and Google Analytics to report on my blog site traffic. The detail that google provides is immense and lets face it – if you don’t show up there than it is very unlikely your blog is going to ever be read by anyone! Using a combination of Yoast and Google Analytics you can even write blogs to target specific search terms from your audience. This is a great way to get noticed.

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VxRail Error Codes reference

Download the VxRail error codes guide.

Last week a customer asked me about some of the alarms showing up in vSphere on their VxRail hosts in VMware vCenter. The alarms were actually generated by VxRail manager and are VxRail error codes unique to the HCI appliance. VxRail Manager uses these codes to highlight any insights at the hardware, hyper-visor or software layer of the integrated appliance. The codes start with VXR in the description.

VxRail Event Code Reference document
Download the VxRail Event Codes Reference Guide PDF

This customer wanted access to details around these event codes and error codes that appeared in vSphere. I shared a link to a document that contains all the VxRail appliance event codes. This document is regularly updated and publicly available here. The document is titled the VxRail appliance event code reference. These include the events for vCenter, iDRAC, SRS, the VxRail appliance and VxRail Manager.

Setup SRS and ACE for the best experience

The error codes will be used to phone home to Dell EMC support through SRS (Secure Remote Support). SRS is able to automatically create an SR (Service Request) for any issues that may be more serious in nature. Customers that have SRS installed will enjoy faster time to resolution for issues that require support from Dell EMC.

This customer was not using the latest version of VxRail software (4.7.300 at time of writing). I encouraged the customer to take advantage of both SRS and ACE. This makes it much easier to monitor and manage multiple clusters. There are also improvements to VxRail error and event code handling in the latest code.

The VxDoctor is in the house.

The latest update to VxRail in the 4.7.300 code includes a new framework for intelligent event handling. This new engine will gather alerts generated and perform logic to either report or dismiss. Only the important events will be forwarded to support. The logic will suppress any benign events to avoid unnecessary SR creation. This event throttling capability will determine if the event can be self-healed first. If self-healing is not possible than a smart logging feature will kick in. It will gather the correct logs required for this specific issue, rather than all logs on the system.

Customers that choose the VxRail appliance see the value that automation brings to infrastructure management. Intelligent appliances are replacing the need for DIY infrastructure. that gives a public-cloud-like experience. Systems that are designed with the principal of SRE are the new normal. Using VxRail and ACE together with SRS a customer can more quickly achieve a cost-effective and reliable on-premises infrastructure.

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VxRail ACE in Continuous Development

New VxRail ACE features arriving fast and often

Did you know that VxRail ACE dashboard has had 4 updates since the soft launch in May this year? As customers log into the Ace dashboard they are first presented with the latest updates that have been released since their last visit. So far there is roughly a monthly cadence between updates. This rapid development is down to the ACE solution being built on the Pivotal platform. Since the soft launch of VxRail ACE in I have been talking to customers about ACE and showing off this first phase of capabilities. Have you had the chance to check out ACE yet?

Customers dont need to install ACE, the data lake is on our side.

A big advantage for customers is that the ACE Data lake sits on our infrastructure. The customer requires no resources to collect and process the data. This data lake is swelled by the 6200+ customers of VxRail. We want to enable as many customers to use ACE since more data gives better results. The next phases of ACE will begin to introduce AI technologies like machine learning. This will give customers options to have VxRail self-drive and auto-repair their clusters.

How do i setup VxRail ACE?

Getting connected to ACE is even easier with the 4.7.300 update for VXRail . We now can deploy SRS directly in vSphere with just a few clicks. Customers need a Dell EMC support logon and the plugin will auto deploy the srs appliance in seconds. Just provide the Support account credentials and an ip address for the SRS appliance(s). The new appliance will be deployed in the VxRail cluster. You can still point SRS at an existing external SRS appliance that is already running in your network.

Dell EMC Secure Remote Support SRS

Remind me. What is VxRail ACE?

How can customers take advantage of new technologies without requiring a heavy lift on their internal IT resources? Firstly offer an appliance rather then DIY build for infrastructure helps (VxRail). Then give customers a choice to subscribe to premium services that add value beyond the simplified HCI experience. “VxRail ACE (Analytical Consulting Engine) is a centralized data collection and analytics platform that streamlines monitoring of your VxRail clusters, improves serviceability, and helps you make better decisions to manage the performance and capacity of your pre-engineered hyperconverged infrastructure. ” – From the ACE overview.

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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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