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vNotions Podcast Recommendations

It’s a bit strange writing about podcasts. Up until about three years about I didn’t really listen to podcasts. I started listening to one with my wife in the car and that led to finding some decent tech related podcasts. I spend about an hour and a half on public transport for my commute and it’s an easy way to consume podcasts without too much hassle. And that’s the beauty of podcasts, simplicity. Personally the best thing about podcast is digesting information easily and using what would otherwise be dead time to learn something new.

So what’s on my podcast list? The short answer is loads. I know this blog is tech focused but it’s important to branch outside your career so in my case there’s a few cycling podcasts as well as some that are related to hobbies and general entertainment.
Tech Podcasts:

Podcast Name Frequency Description Link
Datanauts Weekly This is the go-to Tech podcast for me. Ethan Banks and Chris Wahl have a great dynamic. The format is spot on with reflection on the discussion throughout the podcast. It covers enterprise tech, cloud tech and bits in between with emerging tech. If you only listen to one tech podcast make it this one. Datanauts – iTunes
Tech OnTap Podcast Generally weekly This is focused on NetApp technology but it’s a great resource for understanding the storage industry in general and where it’s going. If you work with NetApp technology at all then I’d highly recommend giving it a listen. TechOnTap – iTunes
The On-Premise IT Roundtable Irregular The is run by Gestalt IT and it’s excellent. A bunch of industry heavy-weights that attend the Field Day events hosted by GestaltIT sit around and discuss topics relevant to the future landscape of IT, taking in a business perspective and the impacts also. A truly informative listen. On-Premise IT – iTunes)
Tech Village Podcast Weekly/Bi-Weekly This is a new podcast but so far I love the format. It’s run by Yadin and Lauren and takes over the mantle of The Geek Whisperers in relation to IT career development. It has a very slick production quality and they interview those from the community and looks at distributed mentorship as a way to advance your career. Tech VIllage – iTunes
Virtually Speaking Podcast Generally weekly This is the VMware podcast hosted by Pete Flecha and John Nicholson. Pete used to be on the Tech OnTap podcast and the NetApp communities podcast prior to that with Nick Howell. This is a slick podcast with great guests and looks at not just the technology but also the use cases around it. The podcast is largely, albeit unsurprisingly, based on VMware technology but also deals with community engagement and interaction as well as blogging tips. It’s got some great intro music as well. Virtually Speaking – iTunes
The Geek Whisperers Deprecated This was one my favourite podcasts. It focused on career development and the journeys that people take. It was hosted by John Troyer, Matt Broberg and Amy Lewis. I cannot recommend this podcast highly enough. Sadly, it is no more after the trio decided to stop producing new content back in August 2017. The content they produced though could be considered timeless for the most part so make sure to check out all the back catalog. If you liked the Geek Whisperers then definitely check out the Tech Village podcast. Geek Whisperers – iTunes

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UCS Director Global Deployment

Last year I presented at the local Cisco DCUG to a warm and receptive audience about Cisco UCS Director being deployed on a global scale. At the time I was working for a global pharmaceutical company and following some organisational changes the requirements of the business and in turn IT changed to match. A key part of the changes focused on global standardisation of IT infrastructure to ensure 24 x 7 operational support. The best way to achieve that goal was to look at automation and orchestration. Cisco UCS Director was the tool chosen at the time. UCS Director is an absolute beast of a product and it reflects badly on Cisco as to how they have marketed and managed the product. It has potential to be the one stop shop for infrastructure management.

Concept:

Create a global platform to enable physical and virtual automation based on standardised templates and processes.

Purpose:

  • Drive standardisation across 14 global sites, reduce management overheads and complexities
  • Put the company in a position to leverage follow the sun support for infrastructure to minimise out of hours support at each local site
  • Provide a secure platform that could easily meet strict auditing guidelines
  • Deliver a mechanism to allow end-users to quickly and easily request new virtual machines
  • Streamline the request for infrastructure processes and remove existing bottlenecks
  • Drive the business towards a Private Cloud architecture rather than individual silos
  • Reduce licensing costs across the business for multiple existing automation and orchestration platforms.
  • The ability to provide a cost model and service catalog and quickly inform projects on the estimated potential costs of their projects.
  • Integration into the existing service management tool
  • Integration into HP Quality Control for auditing and quality control purposes. This allowed for installation verification scripts to be completed.

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What’s another year

It’s at this time of year that most people begin to review all that was completed in 2017 and attempt to set some new goals for 2018. A lot of people I respect in the industry have presented their goals for 2018 and I noticed that I hadn’t done a post for last year to say what my goals were. This year however I want to have it documented for both posterity and for accountability.

So, where do I start with goals for 2018. I don’t really buy into just having new years resolutions as these are usually something like “I need to go to the gym more” and then you handover half your years wages for the privilege of sitting on your couch. For me the goals for the coming year need to be something tangible, relevant and achievable. Some of them are stretch goals so there a bit more challenging to reach but that’s part of the joy really. In order to figure out what goals I wanted to set I took a look back at what was achieved last year and what I didn’t get around to doing. If anything was still relevant it could be carried over to the new year.

In general 2017 was a personally outstanding year. I know a lot of people are glad to see the back of it but it provided some great achievements and memories for both me and my family. On Australia Day I was sworn in as an Australian citizen which was an emotional experience and a great way to kickstart the year. I took stock of my career over the previous Christmas holiday period and looked at the opportunities within my role, where the company was going and what my role was morphing into following some heavy organisational restructuring. I had a realisation that I was struggling to achieve a good work-family balance and that something had to change. Due to significant out-of-hours work requirements, as it was a global role, I wasn’t really present for family events or moments and when I was I was just tired and general a curmudgeonly old bastard. While I was enjoying my job I wasn’t enjoying my family time so I pulled the pin and moved into a locally based role rather than a global one and took the opportunity to move into a Solutions Architecture position. I have to say that it’s been an immense change and my own mental health is much better for it.

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CCNA Exam Giveway

CCNA Exam Giveaway

Neil Anderson from Flackbox.com is currently running a fantastic giveaway for the start of the new year and I thought it would be good to share this opportunity with others. If you aren’t aware of Flackbox then sadly you’ve been missing out. Neil has been creating video training content for Cisco and Netapp as well as branching into Cloud Computing over the past couple of years and has now built up an extensive training catalogue. Neil himself is an instructor by profession and holds a number of top-end industry certifications such as CCIE, NCDE etc. so he’s well placed to create training content.

Enough of the fluff, so what do I win in the giveaway I hear you say. The short answer is loads. As part of the giveaway winners will get:

  • Payment for their Cisco CCNA exam
  • Access to the highest review rated CCNA course online
  • Weekly coaching calls with Neil
  • Full access to AlphaPrep test engine CCNA exam bank
  • 400 pages of configuration lab exercises with setup instructions to run on your laptop for free
  • An additional 150 pages of bonus troubleshooting labs
  • Private Facebook study group

To enter go to Cisco CCNA Giveaway over on Flackbox. The giveaway closes on January 13th so get in there quickly.

As a disclaimer I would like to make note that I recently won a competition to get access to Neil’s CCNA training via Udemy and I can personally vouch for the quality of the training and would highly recommend anyone looking to completing their CCNA as part of their 2018 goals to enter and take advantage of such a great giveaway.

All the best and I wish you luck!

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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