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Architect your Career

Architect your Career

If you’ve ever watched the TV show Grand Designs you’ll know that one of the mantras of the host Kevin McCloud is that the builder should not be the architect or the project manager. Every time there’s a self-build project and the couple take on more than their capabilities his first piece of advice is to get a dedicated architect or project manager. And he’s normally right.

Well, why don’t we take the same principle to our careers. We are essentially all self-builders. We’re the people digging the foundation, laying the blocks, installing the plumbing and electrics. All while learning on the fly. Exactly like a career. Sometimes when we’re caught up in the minutiae of the day to day things it’s hard to step back and take a 10000 feet view of where things are at and where they can go. As solution architects this is exactly what we have to do. Look at the vision, the requirements, the constraints, the capabilities and what interfaces need to be taken into account.

Grand_designs

Where this this all start?

Towards the middle of last year the company I worked with underwent a major organisational restructure within the IT department. The reasons for the change were I believe justified, as the company grew through acquisition they needed to be able to ensure 24 x 7 global support and have the ability for the regional teams to be in constant communication and collaboration. The goal was to drive standardisation across all sites and in turn drive down costs to deliver IT services. Prior to this each primary site, a total of 9 globally, worked in their own silos with their own budgets. The vision was needed but as with all restructures there are some casualties. Some are desired and others are just unintentional fallout. Following the acceptance by senior executives there were some immediate resignations at the mid-management level which were expected. The delivery of the new restructure dragged on however and led to a number of senior engineers leaving too. Including me.

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IT Hoarders, the Keepers of Legacy

We’ve all heard stories of hoarders. That one guy in the neighbourhood that has two cars, a lawnmower, a boat, two dog sheds, an engine from a vintage car, a second rusted engine from a vintage car, some bales of hay and what looks to be a Salvador Dali custom one of a kind sculpture in their front garden. There’s even TV shows about these guys. I honestly believe some of the most under-represented hoarders are those that work in IT. In some cases they should actually be museum pieces. Everyone I know has battle scars of having to deal with ancient relics from a bygone era that is hosting the most critical application for the entire company and hasn’t been patched in 20 years because Jim that installed it but has since retired and no one else is will to risk it. What if it never comes back up? It’s not under a support contract. How is it that IT systems are still being bound with baling twine (probably taken from your neighbourhood hoarders hay bales) and refurbished, bought from e-bay, hard disks? Any worst of all, it’s generally accepted as standard practice in some places. I’ll never forget being ask by the finance director if we could just buy a new EMC Clariion from ‘the internet’ rather than go through a proper procurement process with EMC directly. “Shur isn’t the internet cheap.” Yes boss it is but…..

So to understand this mentality of not wanting to change and hoarding old equipment in data centers in a large part to justify their existance I have take a look at what a hoarder is and also what it is not.

What a hoarder is not:

A hoarder is not a collector. A collector has a sense of pride about their possessions and take pleasure in showing and talking about their possessions. Collectors tend to keep their possessions organised. A hoarder on the other hand will generally experience embarassment about their possessions and feel uncomfortable when others see them. Their possessions take over the functional living space and they often incur great debt to satisfy their hoarding needs.

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Cisco Champions at CLMEL

Cisco Live Melbourne has come and gone for another year and this year was without a doubt the best of all the years I’ve attended so far. This was my 3rd year at CLMEL (#CLMEL) and it was an action packed week. At previous events I’ve been primarily going to the breakout sessions and giving myself a migraine from the amount of information I tried to chug through. This year I went in community mode. Being a Cisco Champion I was lucky to be able to partake in some special events, get some nice perk treatment such as prime seats for the keynote and also to interact with the other Cisco Champions. The number of Cisco Champions for Australia in 2017 has seen a significant increase and it’s heavily loaded towards Melbourne so CLMEL provided the ideal opportunity to meet new people.

CL-Mel-Champs

Last year there were no real events so it was great to see some special Cisco Champions events organised and allow the Champions to meet up. This year Veritas, the events organisers, were on hand to assist with the Cisco Champion events throughout the week. A massive thank you to Freya for keeping things in check throughout the few days. A huge thank you also goes to Brandon Prebynski and Lauren Friedman of the Cisco Champions program for getting everything organised on the back end. The value added to the program during Cisco Live this year cannot be underestimated.

The first order of business on Day 1, Tuesday, was the Data Centre Innovation Day. This session provided an inside look at the upcoming technology roadmap for data centre tech. The Data Centre Innovation Day is by invite only and was organised for me by Lauren Friendman (massive thanks for that). I found the information on the upcoming  roadmaps for UCS Compute, UCS Central and UCS Director platforms. I can’t divulge anything as it was under NDA but I can say some of it is pretty cool. One thing they did discuss which I can mention is the new interoperability matrix tool which has been updated to make it easier to search compatibility requirements. I haven’t played around with it yet but will most likely be using it for my next planned upgrade. Read More

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Melbourne DCUG Superstar Session

The Cisco DCUG has been running for almost a year now and we’ve been very lucky with the support we’ve recieved from both Cisco and the IT community. Back in March, I know I’m well behind the times here due to other commitments, we were immensely privileged to have some top speakers present to the local DCUG.

Cisco Live opening day fell on the same day as our monthly DCUG meeting so it made sense to try to get some of the heavy hitters over from the US to present for us. Cisco DCUG ran with superstars Lauren Malhoit and Remi Phillippe. Lauren is well known within the IT community for her work on the In Tech We Trust podcast but also through her work on ACI. She’s got a course on Pluralsight around ACI if you’re interested in learning more about the Cisco technology. She’s recently jumped into a new role at Techwise TV. Lauren is also the author of a couple of books and an avid blogger for AdaptingIT.com and VirtualizationAdmin.com. Lauren is a massive presence within the tecnology community and I was immensely excited when she agreed to present at the DCUG. Remi is a TME within Cisco’s INSBU and has a heavy focus on the data center analytics platform, Tetration. A massive shout out goes to Rob Tappenden from Cisco in ANZ for helping to organise such quality speakers and initiating the initial contact. A small shout-out (almost at whisper-level) goes to Brett Johnson from vBrownBag for letting us know Lauren was making the trip out to Melbourne.

CLMEL-DUCG-superstars

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Cisco Live Melbourne 2017

Cisco Live Melbourne 2017

Cisco Live time has rolled around again for another year. I’ve been really looking forward to this since before the Christmas break and it’s kind of snuck up on me in the end. This year I’ll be taking part in the Data Centre Innovation Day which will provide the opportunity to interact with key Cisco executives and data centre experts on current and emerging challenges and trends.

Last year I spent quite a bit of time interacting with the guys in the World of Solutions and attending some full-on breakout sessions. This year I’ll once again be hitting up some breakout sessions but I also plan on spending more time in the DevNet zone to get up to speed on scripting, Git, REST APIs and DevOps. DevNet was not very large last year but I expect it to be bigger this year and even harder to attend sessions. You cannot book these sessions in advance so it’s first come first served. If you can spare the time though it’s definitely worth your while going.

The sessions I plan to attend this year are focused on Data Centre technology and I’m really keen to learn more on Tetration and Container technology. I’m also looking at Hybrid Cloud integration. My main purpose outside of technical brain dumps is for networking, meeting and interacting with peers and to promote community engagement. It’s also an opportunity to focus on personal development, take some time out of the office to review where I’m at technically and what gaps exist and begin to make plans on what I’d like to focus on in the coming year. As a Cisco Champion for 2017 there’s some special events/treatment at Cisco Live and having the opportunity to meet the other Cisco Champions is too good to miss. Our regular Cisco Data Center UserGroup also takes place on the first night of Cisco Live and we’ve been extremely fortunate to have fantastic presenters, Remi Philippe and Lauren Malhoit. If anyone happens to be in Melbourne and Tuesday 7th please feel free to come along to the Crafty Squire on Russell Street for a 6:30pm start.

cisco-live-mel-2017
This year I’ve taken the plunge to be part of a panel discussing “Build Your Personal Brand with Social Media”. This is part of the Cisco Champions program during Cisco Live. This will be my first time in front of such an audience and I’m both anxious and excited. If you happen to be at Cisco Live on Wednesday drop by the Cisco Think Tank sessions at 2pm.

 

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Fix: NetApp DataFabric Manager Certificate has expired

Following the upgrade of DFM from version 5.2.0 to 5.2.1 I started to see a warning in the onCommand Management console that the NetApp DataFabric Manager had expired and to create a new one.

dfm-cert-failure

Surprisingly the cert had expired ages ago but neither I nor anyone else noticed. The first step in fixing the issue was to check the SSL service details to find the expiry date of the current certificate. To find this open a command prompt and run the command:

dfm ssl service detail

If the cert is not valid after the current date, or in my case after Dec 9 2015 then a new one needs to be created.

dfm-check-cert

The steps to create a new certificate are:

dfm ssl server setup
KeySize: 2048
Country Name: AU (or whatever two letter country code suites your needs)
State or Province: <insert your state name>
Locality Name: <insert your city>
Organization Name: <insert company name>
Common Name: <insert FQDN of your DFM server>
Email Address: <insert your address>

Once the cert has been created you’ll be prompted to restart the http services.

dfm-check-cert1

Once you restart the services you can acknowledge the alert in onCommand Manager and the alert will be gone

Fix: Cannot run upgrade script on host, ESXi 5.5 

During a recent upgrade I found that one of the ESXi hosts just would not update using Update Manager. The error I was seeing was “Cannot run upgrade script on host”.

After a bit of searching I found this article which related to ESXi 5.1 upgrade to 5.5 but the steps worked well to fix the issue I was seeing.

In order to fix the issue I performed the following steps:

Step 1: Disable HA for the cluster

Disable Cluster HA

Step 2: Go to vCenter Networking. Select the distributed vswitch and then select the hosts tab. From here, right-click on the host you need to reboot and select Remove from vSphere Distributed Switch

Remove Distributed Switch

Click Yes to remove the host from the switch.

Confirm vDS Removal

Step 3: Remove the host from the cluster

Remove ESXi host from cluster

Step 4: Enter the host into maintenance mode and then choose to reboot.

Enter Maintenance Mode
Step 5: Connect via SSH to the ESXi host and run the following commands to uninstall the FDM agent:

>
cp /opt/vmware/uninstallers/VMware-fdm-uninstall.sh /tmp
chmod +x /tmp/VMware-fdm-uninstall.sh
/tmp/VMware-fdm-uninstall.sh
>

SSH Host FDM Uninstaller
Step 6: Reboot the host

Reboot the host
Step 7: Add the ESXi host back to the cluster

rejoin host to cluster step 1

rejoin host to cluster step 2

rejoin host to cluster step 3

rejoin host to cluster step 4
Step 8: Re-add the host to the Distributed vSwitch. Go to Networking -> select the distributed vswitch. Right-click and select Manage Hosts.

Manage vDS

Select the host

Select Host

Select vnics for Uplinks to be managed by the switch

Manage vDS uplinks

Step 9: Turn vSphere HA back on for the cluster the host resides on.

Turn on vSphere HA

Step 10: Run the upgrade again from Update Manager and this time it will work.

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How To: Upgrade to ESXi 5.5 Update 3b on Cisco UCS

ESXi upgrade preparation

With Cisco UCS you really need to make sure that your ESXi hosts are running the correct driver version. If you’re running NFS or FCoE storage into your ESXi hosts as either datastores or RDM disks then it’s critical that you have the right fnic and enic drivers. Even if you use the Cisco Custom image for ESXi upgrades the enic and fnic drivers may not be correct according to the compatibility matrix. I’ve had this issue in the past and I saw intermittent NFS datastores going offline for a Dev ESXi host and the resolution was to upgrade the enic driver which handles ethernet storage connectivity.

The best place to go is to VMware’s compatibility site for IO drivers which comes under the System/Servers. To find out which drivers you currently have you will need to check on the driver versions on the ESXi hosts. This can be done by following KB1027206. Using the values for the Vendor ID, Device ID, Sub-Vendor ID and Sub-Device ID it’s possible to pinpoint the interoperability with your respective hardware. In my case I have both VIC1340 and VIC1240 in the mix so I had to go through the process twice. Primarily you’ll be using the ‘ethtool -i’ command to find the driver version.

enic_driver_check_vmware_kb_steps
e.g. You can check the UCS VIC 1240 for FCoE CNAs on ESXi 5.5 Update 3 here

In this image you can see the version of enic drivers I’m running, 2.1.2.71 doesn’t match the firmware version that will be installed as part of the Cisco Custom ISO image. This shows that the enic driver version will need to be upgraded as part of the process.

enic_driver_check_vmware

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Fix: vCenter failure to upgrade – unable to configure log browser windows service

During a recent upgrade from vCenter Server 5.5 Update 2d to vCenter Server 5.5 Update 3b it kept failing at the web client upgrade. After successfully upgrading Single-Sign On I proceeded with the upgrade of vSphere Web Client. I got the following error during the installation:

Error 29702 unable to configure log browser windows service please check vminst.log in system temporary folder for details

The update to 5.5 3b caused disk capacity to fill up and make the installation process unable to finish the upgrade. The SSO install worked but the WebClient fails with error 29702. The primary issue was that over 40GB of space on C drive was taken up with SSO upgrade. I searched for fixes and found the following link but before carrying out the task of removing the Java Components and re-installing again I wanted to check with support on the procedure.

The steps I followed to fix the issue were:

Step 1: Go to Control Panel, select VMware vCenter Server – Java Components and select uninstall

vmware java component unistall

Step 2: Click ok to confirm the uninstall

vmware java component unistall step 2

Step 3: Click Yes to confirm reboot

java component uninstall step 3

Step 4: Following the reboot you can then begin the upgrade process once again and this time it will succeeed. Run the vCenter installer and from Custom Install select vCenter Single Sign-On. Click Next.

vcenter upgrade step 1

Step 5: Click Install

vcenter upgrade step 3

Step 6: The single sign-on components will begin to install, including components such as OpenSSL

vcenter upgrade step 3

One of the key components being installed is VMware JRE.

vcenter upgrade step 4 vmware JRE

Step 7: If you get prompted to close some applications select “Close the applications and attempt to restart them”. Click Ok.

vcenter upgrade step 5

Click ok to the prompt to close apps automatically

vcenter upgrade step 6

Step 8: Click Finish to complete the Single Sign-On upgrade

vcenter upgrade step 7

Step 9: Click on vCenter Web Client to begin the next stage of the upgrade

vmware upgrade step 8

Step 10: Click Yes to continue

vmware upgrade step 9

Step 11: Click Accept License agreement and click Next

vmware license agreement

Step 12: Click Install to begin the web client installation

vsphere web client install

Step 13: Click Finish to complete the installation

vsphere web client installation completion

Once you click Finish click Ok on the dialog to advise that the services will take a few minutes to restart

vsphere web client installation completion 1

Step 14: Select vCenter Inventory Service and click Install

vcenter inventory service upgrade step 1

Step 15: Click Yes for Inventory Service install

vcenter inventory service upgrade step 2

Step 16: Click Next to continue the installation process

vcenter inventory service upgrade step 3

Step 17: Click Accept License agreement and click Next

vcenter inventory service upgrade step 4

Step 18: Click Install for inventory service

vcenter inventory service upgrade step 5

Step 19: Click Finish on completion

vcenter inventory service upgrade step 6

Step 20: Install vCenter Server

vcenter server upgrade step 1

Step 21: Click Ok to continue

vcenter server upgrade step 2

Step 22: Click Next to continue

vcenter server upgrade step 3

Step 23: Click to accept the license and click Next

vcenter server upgrade step 4

Step 24: Enter the database user login credentials, VC_User

vcenter server upgrade step 5

Step 25: Click Install at the Customer Experience Improvement Program

vcenter server upgrade step 6

Step 26: Click Finish to complete the installation

vcenter inventory service upgrade step 6

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Fix: Cisco B200 M4 – FlexFlash – FFCH_Error_old_firmware_Running_error

During a recent upgrade of Cisco B200 M4 blades I got the following error:

FlexFlash FFCH_ERROR_OLD_FIRMWARE_RUNNING
flexflash-error

I really wasn’t sure what was causing the issue but it turned out to be a known bug for M4 blades. More details can be found over on Cisco BugSearch Note: You’ll need a Cisco Login to access the site. Basically the issue affects B200 M4 blades upgraded to 2.2(4) or higher.

The workaround is actually quite easy and just needs to have the FlexFlash Controller reset. This can be done using the below steps:

Step 1: Select Equipment -> Chassis # -> Server # -> Inventory -> Storage -> Reset FlexFlash Controller

Flexflash-fix-steps

Step 2: Click Yes to reset the FlexFlash controller

reset-flexflash-controller

Step 3: Click Ok on reset notification

flexflash-controller-ok