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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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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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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: 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

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Fix: Cisco UCS B200 M4 Activation Failed

During a recent upgrade I ran into a problem with activation of B200 M4 blade. This was following the infrastructure firmware upgrade and the next step was to upgrade the server firmware. However, before upgrading the server firmware I got the error from the B200 M4 blades showing the following error:

Activation failed and Activate Status Set to Failed

This turned out to be due to the B200 M4 blades shipping with version 7.0 of the board controller firmware. On investigation with Cisco I found that it’s a known bug – CSCuu78484

You can follow the commands to change the base board. You can find more information on that from the Cisco forums but the commands you need are below:

#scope server X/Y (chassis X blade Y)

#scope boardcontroller

#show image

#activate firmware version.0 force

>Select a lower version than current one

#commit-buffer

What I found was that since I was going to be upgrading the blade firmware version anyway there was no point in dropping the server firmware back and instead proceed with the upgrade which fixed the issue.

I spoke with TAC and they advised that the error could be ignored and I could proceed with the UCS upgrade. The full details of the upgrade can be found in another post.

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How To: Cisco UCS Firmware Upgrade 2.2 to 3.1 with Auto-Install

Recently I had to upgrade our ESXi hosts from Update 2 to Update 3 due to security patch requirements. This requirement stretches across two separate physical environments, one running IBM blades and the other running on Cisco UCS blade chassis in a Flexpod configuration. The upgrade paths for both are slightly different, and they also run on different vCenter platforms. Both of these also have different upgrade paths as one is running VMware SRM and is in linked mode. I’m not going to discuss the IBM upgrades but I did need to upgrade the firmware of the Infrastructure and Servers for Cisco UCSM.

Before you being any upgrade process I highly recommend reading the release notes to make sure that a) an upgrade path exists from your current version, b) you become aware of any known issues in the new version and c) the features you want exist in the new version

UCS Upgrade Prep Work

Check the UCS Release Guides

Check the release notes to make sure all the components and modules are supported. The release notes for UCS Manager can be found on their site. The link is listed further below in the documents section.

Some of the things to check within the release notes are:
* Resolved Caveats

ucs-caveats-precheck

  • UCS Version Upgrade patch

ucs-infra-requirements-precheck

  • UCS Infrastructure Hardware compatibility

ucs-infra-requirements-precheck1

  • Minimum software version for UCS Blade servers

ucs-server-requirements-precheck1

Open a Pre-Emptive Support Call

I opened a call with Cisco TAC to investigate the discrepancy in the firmware versions. The advice was to downgrade the B200 M4 server firmware down to 4.0 (1). However, as I was planning on upgrading anyway I’ve now confirmed that the best option is to upgrade to the planned 3.1 version. As part of this upgrade I will also upgrade all the ESXi hosts on that site the same day. There is a second UCS domain on another site that will be upgraded on another date.

ucs-pre-emptive-support-case

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Cisco Data Center User Group Melbourne First Meetup

Last night we hosted the first Cisco Data Center User Group in Melbourne. It was a successful night with a great turn out and excellent interaction and networking between everyone that attended. Everyone was enthusiastic and willing to take part and really mate it a fantastic night.

The user group was formed with the intention to create a space where IT professionals can come together in a relaxed environment to network, have a drink and learn about data center technology. We wanted to have an interactive and social atmosphere and thanks to everyone that attended and took part because that’s exactly what was achieved.

Cisco DCUG Melbourne Members photo

One of the things that I liked most about the meetup was the attendance of people from other community groups. Craig Waters (@cswaters1) from the VMware VMUG community, Brett Johnson (@brettjohnson008) from the vBrownBag community and one of the presenters, Will Robinson, from the NetAppATeam. The support from other communities is great and we really appreciate it.

The night itself began with an introduction from Derek Hennessy (@derekhennessy) and Chris Partsenidis (@cpartsenidis) on how the user group idea was formed. A shout out went to Lauren Friedman (@lauren) from Cisco for her help and support for getting the user group off the ground. We swiftly moved onto the first speaker of the night, Chris Gascoigne (@chrisgascoigne).

Introduction

Chris is a Technical Architect for Cisco ANZ with the Data Center team and has a focus on ACI, Nexus 9000, Automation/Orchestration and DevOps. Chris ran through a few slides on how network engineers can leverage tools such as Puppet, Ansible and Chef to implement the DevOps framework. He then ran through a demo of how to manage a Nexus 9000 switch from a bash shell and deploy Puppet configurations to a switch. Chris also emphasised the need to provide version control, code review and deployment into production. There were a number of questions from the audience as everyone tried to imagine using such tools within their own infrastructure environments. Unfortunately I don’t have a copy of Chris’ slidedeck to make available. A special mention goes out to Chris Partsenidis for performing the important task of being a microphone stand through Chris Gascoigne’s demo.

Following Chris’ presentation we took a break and let everyone digest the content and the food as well as order up another drink for the next session. Will Robinson (@oznetnerd) is a Senior Engineer with a focus on networking and storage and a wealth of experience. Will also has a mighty home lab setup and he gave everyone a run through on using GNS3 within his home lab. He really hit home on rethinking the physical and the logical implementations of networks and gave an example of a complex network he’d designed within GNS3. Everyone was really engaged in Wills presentation and it was like a quick fire buzzer round at a quiz following his presentation. He even managed to jokingly make reference to a layer 8 issue for someone using GNS3

GNS3 Connectivity

I’ve uploaded the slidedecks from the night and in the future we hope to capture the presentations on video and make them available as an archive following the events themselves. All in all it was a great night and we believe we have now started to develop a new community. If you’re interested in learning about technology, having a drink and some grub, and meeting other IT professionals and networking then we’re really looking forward to seeing you at the next meeting on Tuesday July 5th.

P.S. Thanks to Chris for the photo of the attendees

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Cisco Data Centre User Group – Melbourne

cisco next gen data center user group

Next month we’re starting a new user group for Cisco Data Center in Melbourne. This user group is being run by Cisco Champions, myself and Chris Partsenidis. Chris and I met up after the recent Cisco Live in Melbourne and got chatting about how there’s no real community around Cisco technology so we reached out to Lauren Friedman (@lauren). Lauren was super helpful and has supported the creation of Cisco Data Center User Group. This is something that Lauren is working on from a global perspective and we’re delighted to be laying the groundwork in Australia.

This user group is centered around Cisco Next-Generation Data Centers and is for anyone that uses Cisco technology or that of the extended ecosystem. Our meetup is a fantastic opportunity to get to know others in the community over some snacks and beers in a relaxed and social environment. While the group is supported by Cisco, don’t expect sales pitches. We’ll focus on enabling a local community for Cisco Data Center users to share experiences, network and to learn more about both technology and careers. We openly invite submissions for topics and presentations from any members.

Some of the topics we’re looking to cover in the coming months are:

  • Cisco HyperFlex
  • DevOps
  • Cisco Nexus Switching
  • Big Data Analytics
  • Data Center Storage
  • CCNA DC and beyond
  • Cisco ACI and Nexus 9000
  • Operations and Data Center Management
  • HomeLab setup
  • Exam Preparation and certification
  • Automation and Orchestration
  • We’re open to requests from the community for topics of interest

The user group will catch up on the first Tuesday of every month at The Crafty Squire at 127 Russell Street in Melbourne CBD. We’ll be located upstairs in Porter Place. Our first meeting will run be Tuesday June 7th and all meetings will take place between 5:30 and 7:30PM.

Crafty Squire Porter Place

More details about the regular meet ups can be found over at Cisco Data Center User Group page on Meetup.com. This page will be updated regularly with the meeting agendas and speakers. We look forward to seeing you there, please don’t be shy and come along to say hello. Welcome to the community.