Virtual Machine User Group Meeting – 12th March 2013

screenshot319I’m a long standing member of the London VMUG (that being the VMware User Group) but I’ve also on occasion been to Virtual Machine User Group (VMUG) meetings as well when I’ve been able to find the time.

The Virtual Machine User Group have a meeting coming up in Birmingham on Tuesday 12th March 2013. The published agenda is:

Time Track 1 Track 2
09:00 – 10:00 Vendor Market, Welcome Address and Refreshments
10:00 – 10:50


vCloud Director & vSphere 5.1

VeeamVeeam Modern Data Protection
11:00 – 11:50

App Cogs

Virtualisation for Sharepoint Professionals


Getting Started with NetApp Filers

12:00 – 13:00 Vendor Market, Lunch and Special Interest Groups
13:00 – 13:50

The Bunker

Panel Debate: Is the cloud secure?


HyperV Version3 – What you need to know

14:00 – 14:50


Simplifying EUC Management

Trend Micro

Securing Your Journey Through The Cloud

14:50 – 15:15 Vendor Market & Refreshments
15:15 – 16:05

Riff Cube

Is Cloud Computing the Silver Lining to PR

Freeth Cartwright LLP

IT Law

16:15 – 17:05


The Storage & Virtualisation Roadmap


Any App, Any Desktop, Any Data, Any Device, Anywhere

Register here, it’s free but spaces are limited.

In case you’re wondering what the difference between a VMware and Virtual Machine User Group is (in their own words):

VMware User Group

The VMware User Group (VMUG) is an independent, global, customer-led organization, created to maximize members’ use of VMware and partner solutions through knowledge sharing, training, collaboration, and events.

Virtual Machine User Group

We are an association of persons with a vested interest in the successful deployment of virtual infrastructure and their associated technologies. The committee are all volunteers and are directly employed to manage and design virtual infrastructure in their organisations.


Don’t over-complicate!

Having recently relocated my home office and my home lab within my house, I have set about rebuilding my lab from scratch. As it evolves or my needs change, a rebuild is good to purge out the remnants of the various experiments and tests that I’ve done. However, I will sometimes fall into the trap of trying to be too clever.

Take last night as an example. I happened to read about a piece of software called Cobbler. To save anyone having to read what is quite a lengthy man page, Cobbler manages the provisioning of operating systems from a single server. I thought it would be great if I could automate and control the complete rebuild of my entire lab from bare metal to fully functional at the touch of a few buttons with my QNAP NAS acting as the Cobbler server.

After a little more research, I grabbed the source code and tried to shoe-horn it onto my NAS. Part way through, and encountering problems, I realized that I was vastly over-complicating this rebuild. Let’s face it, how many times do I actually need to reinstall everything from the ground up? Once or maybe twice per major release at most.

Thankfully I only wasted an evening on it although it was fun. I might still try and work it out in the future but there are more important things to do in the meantime.


Vote For Your Top Virtualization Blogs

voteIt’s that time again. For the last few years Eric Siebert, over at vsphere-land.com, has organised a vote giving you, the readers of virtualization blogs, the opportunity to decide which you think is the best.

Jeremy and I run this site in our spare time because we want to but if you could see you way clear to voting for us, or any of you other favourite virtualization blogs, then you have our thanks.

Just hit the “vote” button to the left to be directed to the voting page, or click here.


New vOPS Server Explorer 6.3

dell-vkernelA new version of vOPS Server Explorer is being launched today by vKernel (who were acquired by Quest and subsequently Dell).

The company have a history of releasing free tools to assist vSphere administrators and the new version of vOPS Server Explorer builds on this reputation by bringing in an additional subset of functionality from their commercial product (vOPS Server Standard).

Of course, as a free tool, one of its aims is to prove its value and help generate sales of the full, commercial product. I don’t think that should stop anyone trying it out though – you can’t knock a free tool. I used one of vKernel’s early tools to highlight a growing issue for a customer.

So, what’s new in this version?

Environment Explorer

This is actually a pre-existing component in vOPS Server Explorer but some additional functionality has been added in this release:

  • Potential zombie VMs are highlighted.
  • The savings possible from resizing VMs are now shown (although the costs are pre-configured in this free version).
  • The dashboard has a new tile that highlights the major changes to the infrastructure made over the last week.


Storage Explorer

This component exists in the commercial vOPS Server Standard already but now some of the functionality is being brought into vOPS Server Explorer. It exists to show consolidated statistics and issues related to storage.

One of the things that I like about this component is that so many different pieces of data are visible and accessible in one place. For example, for each datastore you can easily see both the VMFS version and the path selection policy. Also, hover the mouse over a datastore and you can see useful tootips (for example you might see that 16% of a datastore’s throughput comes from a single VM).

You can also see VM capacity information (as long as your VMs have VMtools installed) and any warnings about actual or potential performance issues. Naturally the warning thresholds are not configurable in vOPS Server Explorer but only in the full vOPS Server Standard product. The free version is also limited to the top 10 datastores.


Change Explorer

This component is intended to show a history / overview of changes made within a virtual infrastructure. Again, it’s built on functionality available in the full product but provides some useful insights into changes that have occurred.

It contains filtering functionality that allows you to search for actions taken by specific users or for actions taken on particular VI objects. Each change comes with an associated impact risk (that is configurable in the commercial version) to allow you to view the highest impact changes only for instance.



vOPS Server Explorer 6.3 is available for download at: http://www.vkernel.com/download/server-explorer


First London VMUG of 2013 – Register Now!


You know that I love my VMUGs. They’re great events that offer plenty of opportunities to meet new people, network, learn a thing or two and – best of all – they’re free to attend!

fusion5-licensesThursday 24th January 2013 see’s this year’s first London VMUG occurring at the usual place near Mansion House tube station:

London Chamber of Commerce and Industry
33 Queen Street
London, EC4R 1AP

There are some great presenters and subjects on the agenda, including the event’s sponsors – Nutanix, 10 ZiG and Zerto. There are usually a few prizes / giveaways on offer and I’m adding to that pot with a couple of VMware Fusion 5 Professional licenses…

If you can’t make the event itself then there’s always vBeers nearby afterwards.

It’s well worth attending, register on the VMUG website here.


Here’s the Agenda:

8:30 Event Reception
10:00 Welcome
10:15 Nutanix Plenary Presentation
11:00 Your Journey to the Post-PC Era Brian Gammage, VMware
11:45 Break in Thames Suite
12:15 EUC Panel with VDI Gurus Brian Gammage, VMware
Deploying vCD 5.1 and VXLAN Dan Senior
VMware HA Deepdive Eric Sloof
13:00 Lunch
14:00 Zerto Presentation
10Zig Presentation
15:00 Big Data for the Uninitiated Stu Radnidge
Update – What’s Here and What’s Coming Soon Spencer Pitts, VMware EUC
VMware HA Deepdive Eric Sloof
16:00 VMware Certification Update Gregg Robertson, Xtravirt
vCAC Kim Raynard, VMware
VMware HA Deepdive Eric Sloof
17:00 Meeting close
17:15 Onward Drinks at Pavilion End


XenDesktop Licensing Service Crashes on License Addition

Hang on, I’m primarily a VMware virtualization focused blogger aren’t I? Mostly, yes, but there are environments I work on that have other virtualization products installed in them. One of these, a PoC for a project, had a XenDesktop Express installation running in it that had an expired trial license.

I was able to retrieve a new license file from Citrix’s website…

…and sought to use the Desktop Studio to apply it. However, I received a message back during the process to say that the License Server was not available:

Error code:
Citrix License Server currently unavailable. Check the license server and make sure it’s running, then try again.


System.Reflection.TargetInvocationException Exception has been thrown by the target of an invocation.
at Citrix.Console.Common.CallbackEventArguments.OperationCompleteSynchronizer`1.GetResults()
at Citrix.Console.Common.CallbackEventArguments.OperationCompleteSynchronizer`1.WaitForResults()
at Citrix.Console.UI.Licensing.Mmc.LicensingResultPaneViewModel.UploadFileToLicenseServer(String fileName, Boolean overwrite)
at Citrix.Console.UI.Licensing.Mmc.LicensingResultPaneViewModel.c__DisplayClass20.<;AddLicense&gt;b__1e()
at Citrix.Console.CommonControls.ProgressDisplay.GenericProgressOperation.PerformOperationInternal()
at Citrix.Console.CommonControls.ProgressDisplay.ProgressWindowOperation.PerformOperation()
at Citrix.Console.CommonControls.ProgressDisplay.ProgressWindowViewModel.PerformAction(ManualResetEvent operationComplete)

Inner exception:
Citrix.Console.Models.CallbackEventArguments.ScriptException Citrix License Server currently unavailable. Check the license server to make sure it’s running, then try again.
at Citrix.Console.PowerShellInteraction.XDCommand.EndExecutionAndCheckErrors(ProgressModel progressModel)
at Citrix.Console.PowerShellInteraction.XDCommand.RunTypeUnsafe()
at Citrix.Console.PowerShellSdk.LicensingService.Scripts.AddLicenseFileScript.RunScript()
at Citrix.Console.PowerShellInteraction.ThreadedPowerShellScript`1.RunScriptInternal()

Error data:
LicenseServerDownnSystem.InvalidOperationException: License Server is not running.
at System.Management.Automation.MshCommandRuntime.ThrowTerminatingError(ErrorRecord errorRecord)


A quick look in the Windows Services tool showed that it was indeed not running. Restarting it only produced another failure and a Windows 1067 error.

It turns out that when trying to download the license file it had in fact downloaded the web page’s source into the .lic file instead of the license text! Just opening the license file showed this. Scrolling down though you find the real URL for the license file:

Just pop that into your browser address bar and download the file.

Of course, the Licensing Server still won’t start as it’s trying to read the incorrectly populated license file and failing. To resolve this, just delete the .lic file that it has tried to import from c:program files(x86)citrixlicensingmyfiles:

The service will now start again and you can import the correct license file.


UKVMUG 2012 Agenda

The dust has barely settled on VMworld Europe and the Agenda for next month’s UKVMUG in Birmingham has been posted. There are multiple tracks and some big names presenting in addition to the valued event sponsors.

It’ll be difficult picking between everything that’s going on. For instance should I go for Duncan and Frank’s Deep-Dive discussion, Alan and William’s Practical Automation session or Hugo and Aidan’s VCDX Boot Camp? And that’s just breakout block #2!

It’s interesting that there are Community sessions scheduled alongside Sponsor ones. I imagine this might be in response to some feedback from last year’s event or perhaps from more recent VMUGs.

Anyway, I’ve copied the Agenda below for easy reference. But if you haven’t registered yet, why not? It’s free! Register here…

8:00 – 8:30 Registration | Breakfast | Mingle with Vendors Trafalgar Foyer
8:30 – 9:00 Keynote VMUG Welcome | Alaric Davies Britannia Suite
9:00 – 9:45 Keynote VMware Keynote | Joe Baguley | Software Defined Data Centre, Weapon or Necessary Evil? Britannia Suite
9:45 – 10:00 Break|Mingle with Vendors Imperial Suite
10:00 – 10:45 Breakout Block #1 | Education Sessions
Sponsor Nimble Storage | Stress-Free Data Protection for VMware and VDI Bracebridge Suite
Sponsor Veeam | 5 Ways Smart VM Backups May Surprise You Ballacraine Suite
Sponsor Teradici | How to Enhance Your VDI Experience Waterloo Suite
Sponsor Trend Micro | Security at Every Stage: Trend Micro, VMware and Your Journey to the Cloud Britannia Suite
Community Ricky El-Qasem | Creating VMware Apps for Novice Programmers Kirkmichael Suite
10:45- 11:15 Break | Mingle with Vendors Imperial Suite
11:15 – 12:00 Breakout Block #2 | Education Sessions
VMware Duncan Epping and Frank Denneman | Deep-Dive Discussion Group Bracebridge Suite
VMware Hugo Phan and Aidan Dalgleish | VCDX Boot Camp Ballacraine Suite
VMware Alan Renouf and William Lam | Practical Automation for Everyone Waterloo Suite
VMware Matthew Steiner | What’s New in vSphere 5.1 Britannia Suite
Community Chris Dearden | A Techies Guide to Getting the Most Out of IT Support Kirkmichael Suite
12:00 – 13:00 Lunch | Mingle with Vendors Imperial Suite
13:00 – 13:45 Breakout Block #3 | Education Sessions
Sponsor Fusion-io |  Flash as a Cache – Rethinking Virtualisation Bracebridge Suite
Sponsor Embotics | Lessons Learned in Deploying Private Clouds Ballacraine Suite
Sponsor Coraid | Server Virtualization Demands a New Storage Architecture Waterloo Suite
Sponsor Quantum | The 7 Questions You Must Ask Before Buying a VM Protection Product Britannia Suite
Community Mike Laverick | Building my vCloud Director Home Lab Kirkmichael Suite
13:45 – 14:15 Break | Mingle with Vendors Imperial Suite
14:15 – 15:00 Breakout Block #4 | Education Sessions
VMware Duncan Epping and Frank Denneman | Deep-Dive Discussion Group Bracebridge Suite
VMware Cormac Hogan | VMware Storage Update – 5.1: Storage features and storage futures as per announcements at VMworld Ballacraine Suite
VMware Aidan Dalgleish | vCloud Director DR Waterloo Suite
VMware Tom O’Rourke and Kim Raynard | Dynamic Ops – Cloud Automation Britannia Suite
Community Tom Howarth | Deep Dive on Desktop Design for VDI Kirkmichael Suite
15:00 – 15:15 Break | Mingle with Vendors Imperial Suite
15:15 – 16:00 Breakout Block #5 | Education Sessions
Sponsor Whiptail | Flash 101 – The Physics and Stuff Bracebridge Suite
Sponsor Hitachi Data Systems | Storage Systems Basics for Virtualized Environments Ballacraine Suite
Sponsor VMTurbo | Can You Manage Your Virtual Infrastructure so That Optimized Performance and High Resource Utilization are Not Mutually Exclusive? Waterloo Suite
Sponsor iLand | vCloud Services: IT’s Secret Weapon Britannia Suite
Community Julian Wood | vSphere Networking and Converged IO with Blade Servers Kirkmichael Suite
16:00 – 16:15 Break | Mingle with Vendors Imperial Suite
16:15 – 16:45 Keynote Closing Keynote | Scott Lowe | Staying Sharp and Relevant in IT Britannia Suite
16:45 – 17:00 Prize Draws Britannia Suite


Windows Not Activating? Check the Time!

A lesson in not trying to do several things at once.

I had just deployed a VM from a template and waited for it to be customized. All was well until Windows tried, and failed, to activate giving the error code 80072f8f. This was in a new environment in a remote datacenter. Once I started paying attention though I noticed that the VM was set to synchronize time with the host and the host’s NTP configuration had not been made correctly. The VM was running 6 months or so behind the current date.

The two takeaways from this are:

  1. Check your host configuration and don’t assume that it’s correct if you’re provided with a pre-built host from a 3rd party
  2. Don’t do too many things at once and forget about the above!

VMworld Europe 2012 – Thank You

It’s all over for another year. I’ve had a great time meeting people and learning a thing or two. Before I forget them though, I wanted to say a few “thank you”s. In no particular order they are:

  • Virtual Clarity, my employer, for supporting my attendance here.
  • My wife and family for letting me go almost a week without speaking to them properly!
  • Fira Barcelona – it’s a big space and I’ve heard some people complaining that they’ve had to do a lot of walking but I didn’t come here expecting to sit down all day. The event staff have been good and I thank them all for putting up with so many foreign geeks.
  • Josh Atwell, Damian Karlson and Alastair Cooke for putting on a series of great vBrownbag presentations.
  • All of the speakers for putting together so many great sessions.
  • The vendors / sponsors / solutions providers who make IT great. I didn’t stop at every booth but I had great conversations with lots of them.
  • The event organizers who have spent the best part of a year making VMworld happen.
  • John Troyer, the godfather of the VMware community
  • Alex Maier, she may have moved on from VMware but she helped all of the vExperts so much and helped get me here this year.
  • VMware – Thank you for continuing to innovate!

I’m looking forward to next year already. Whether it be in San Francisco or Barcelona (the 2013 Europe conference location isn’t known yet) – let’s see…