Cool Tool Friday! – Onyx

Being a fan of scripting but still being what i’d consider a novice any tool that assists with figuring out how it all works is gold IMHO. enter VMware Onyx. This is a fling from VMware. If you are not familiar with VMware Flings look here. Flings are basically cool things built by folks at VMware to make your life easier! Onyx acts as a proxy between the VI client and vCenter. So all operations you do in the VI client are recorded and exposed in Onyx. Here is the official description:

Continue reading “Cool Tool Friday! – Onyx”

Cool Tool Friday! – hMailserver

I’ve decided to try and start a weekly cool tool series…could be a free tool or a cool feature of another tool etc..

My first entry is hMailserver

Its a simple open source mailserver that runs on windows and is ideal for lab use. I would do a how-to on how to setup but Frank Buechsel has already done that so here’s a link instead!!! Frank works for VMware GSS and is worth following if you are on twitter 

Link here

Restart Hung VM

In the lab during the week I came across a VM that was hanging intermittently. Being up the walls with other projects right now i decided to implement a script to check the VM intermittently and reset if it was hung until I get the chance to troubleshoot the issue. Added the following in a powershell script as a scheduled task in windows

# Load Windows PowerShell cmdlets for VMware
add-psSnapin VMWare* | out-null

# Connect To vCenter
Connect-VIServer -Server ServerName -User UserName -Pass Password | Out-Null

# Test Connection to the VM and reset if no response

$vm = Get-VM -Name VMName
if(!(Test-Connection -ComputerName VmHostName -Quiet))
Stop-VM -VM $vm -Confirm:$false -Kill
Start-VM -VM $vm

# Disconnect from vCenter
Disconnect-VIServer -Confirm:$False

New Year…New Blog Commitment!

So we’re well into the new year and I’ve decided to revive this blog and actually post some stuff! I started it a long long time ago and never really committed to it. But recently I’ve been inspired by projects like #Commitmas by Matt Brender @mjbrender More Info Here and the 30 posts in 30 days or #vDM30in30 started by i believe Melissa Palmer @vmiss33

So considering I posted about 4 times in 3 years I’m setting myself the challenge to post once a month for the rest of the year…not quite #vDM30in30 but i’ll get there! 🙂

In my day to day job i sometimes use scripts to automate one thing or the other..some i create myself…some i rip from other sites and modify to suit my use case and some you find are a perfect fit. I’ll post some of these (the interesting ones at least!). I’ll also try to post some useful Hybrid Cloud related bits as that’s my primary focus area right now.

Or maybe i wont and the tumble weed will roll in…tune in next week…same bat time…same bat channel…to find out!

NIC Disconnects on Nested ESXi 5.5

Time for a techy post!

Came across this issue recently and thought i’d post it as someone may find it useful!

During build of some of the labs for EMCW we encountered an issue where the mgmt NICs on some of our nested ESXi5.5 VMs were becoming disconnected. It seemed to be confined to 5.5 hosts with E1000 NICs and only to hosts that had large amounts of resources (for nested ESXi hosts at least). These hosts had 32GB RAM & between 10 & 16 CPUs and have many nested VMs running on them. At random the ESXi VMs would lose mgmt network connectivity. During troubleshooting we first looked to see if they were being overloaded for resources and possibly suffering a panic, but when opening the console of the VM they were running just fine (aside from the mgmt network disconnected!!). Nothing obvious in the logs so we then started to look at the NICs. We have VMware tools installed thanks to this Fling so we decided to try some different NIC types. Being an old fashioned “one step at a time” kind of troubleshooter I started with E1000E with a view to moving to VMXnet3 however E1000E seems to have resolved the issue. No more disconnects!

Updating all of our base 5.5 templates with E1000E NICs & hopefully this is the last we’ll see of this issue!


Just what does it take to create Hands on labs for EMC World?

Every year at EMC World we have a Hands On Labs Section where customers, partners and EMC Employees can get hands on experience with cutting edge EMC technologies, products & solutions. Every year there are an average of 30 individual labs that can be chosen from. This year we have 33 labs across all EMC products and solutions and its shaping up to be the best year ever. But what exactly goes into delivering 33 labs? Well aside from a lot of late nights and potential divorces (!!) the main thing is the huge amount of collaboration across all the EMC vLab teams and across the wider EMC community. Each business unit creates their own labs under our guidance so that all the coolest features and functions are given maximum exposure.

But before we ever get to that there is a growing vLab team that creates and maintains production and development environments to cater for general vLab users, and events of all sizes. On average vLab runs somewhere between 1,000 – 1,200 sessions daily. With a rough average of 8 VMs per session that’s somewhere between 8,000 & 10,000 running VMs per day. Not trivial! We have a platform team that architect, support and caress the backend vCD infrastructure that runs on countless Cisco blades & EMC storage to ensure maximum uptime and the best experience possible for our user base.

Our software team have developed a custom in house front end application layer to control the automation layer. So from the moment a user logs into vLab they are experiencing an environment customized for their needs..whether they are in the US, EMEA or APJ. This year we are standing up a massive new environment to support EMCW14 HOL. Once the show is over this environment will be added to our existing vLab infrastructure with the flick of a switch (or a few lines of code!)


So getting back to EMCW HOL! For obvious reasons we don’t develop new content in our production space. Instead we have a dedicated content development engine, which is where the team i work with comes in. We replicate as much as possible our production setup so we can craft content that plays well when migrated to production. We currently use vCloud Director (but are always looking forward to the future) to create customized templates of standard OS based VMs and customized EMC appliances. We run on the same Cisco blades as production and of cource EMC storage! This allows us to quickly and easily deploy vApp environments for EMC business units to add their application stacks and custom use cases that go into creating a HOL. We also provide documentation tools and standards to ensure lab guide consistency.

As each year passes discussions about the next years HOLs start earlier and earlier. I have a distant memory of having a call about EMCW14 in July last year with one business unit! And the knock on effect of this is that we are working on HOLs earlier and earlier every year. Ultimately this ends up with a better and more polished experience for attendees. It would not surprise me that in a few years we start working on actual lab content 12 months before the next show!

This year we are also introducing Guided vLabs. So, what’s a guided vLab I hear you ask?  Well, you could look at it as being somewhere between your standard self-paced Hands-On Lab and Instructor-Led Training.  Every attendee will get their own terminal with their very own vLab but rather than taking the lab in a self-service mode with a published lab guide, there will be an instructor in the room providing additional context, walking them through those same Hands-On Lab exercises and answering any questions. This is a great opportunity for our customers and partners to get some quality time with the subject matter experts across our various products and solutions. EMC World attendees will be able to use the EMC World Agenda Builder on the EMC World website to include Guided vLabs as part of their personal agenda.  Attendees are also urged to pre-register for a class at our booth in the Village, as space will be limited.

Anyway, as we work tirelessly away behind the scenes you can be safe in the knowledge that this years EMC World Hands On Labs are going to be the best ever and if you are lucky enough to attend the show be sure to stop by and say hello to the folks behind the curtain that is EMC vLab!!


This years list of labs can be reviewed here and you can express your interest by clicking “Add to My Interests”. 


See you in Vegas!


If you receive the following error when trying install the web client on vCenter 5.1 you can reset the password.

Could not connect to vCenter Single Sign-On. Make sure that theLookup Service URL points correctly to the vCenter Single Sign

or an error stating the credentials are invalid do the following:

  1. Login as an administrator to the vCenter SSO server.
  2. Click Start > Run, type cmd, and click OK. The Command Prompt window opens.
  3. Navigate to the directory SSOInstallDirectory\utils. By default, the installation directory isC:\ProgramFiles\VMware\Infrastructure\SSOServer\utils.
  4. Run this command:rsautil reset-admin-password
  5. Enter the master password when prompted.

If resetting here gives you this error  ERROR: Key [com.rsa.db.msserverinstance] is not defined

do the following  and then repeat the above process to reset using a new password

  • Ensure that you are using a new password.
  • Update the com.rsa.db.msserverinstance property in the file for Single Sign On:
    1. Open the file using a text editor.Note: By default, the file is located at:
      • vCenter Server installed on Windows – C:\Program Files\VMware\Infrastructure\SSOServer\webapps\ims\WEB-INF\classes\
      • For vCenter Server Appliance 5.1 – /usr/lib/vmware-sso/webapps/ims/WEB-INF/classes
    2. Add this entry to the file:com.rsa.db.msserverinstance=instance

      Where instance is the RSA database name. The default instance name is:

      • vCenter Server installed on Windows – com.rsa.db.msserverinstance=RSA
      • vCenter Server Appliance 5.1 – com.rsa.db.msserverinstance=ssodb