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VMware Foundation Update: Aquabox responds to flooding in South Asia

The UK-based charity Aquabox (which is listed as a beneficary on the VMware Foundation) has been heavily involved with relief efforts following widespread floods in South Asia, which have killed more than 1,200 people and affected millions. The severe flooding from monsoon rains has devastated communities and destroyed crops across India, Nepal and Bangladesh, raising fears of food shortages and the risk of disease.

Since its formation in 1992, Aquabox has distributed more than 110,000 humanitarian aid boxes to countries around the world suffering from natural or man-made disasters, helping hundreds of thousands of people, and the charity has been particularly active over the past few weeks.

Within days of the floods, Aquaboxes were airlifted to those areas in dire need of support. Each Aquabox is designed for a family and contains a filter for providing safe drinking water as well as over 70 humanitarian aid items, including shelter materials and tools, blankets and sheets, cooking utensils, personal hygiene items, baby and children’s clothing, educational items and toys.

Aquabox Trustee Roger Cassidy revealed that these boxes had been held in stock in Nepal. “Sadly, the country endures disasters on a regular basis,” explained Roger. “Aquabox has long-established partnerships with Rotary Clubs in Nepal, the British Gurkha Rifles, Nepal Armed Police, Nepalese Army and other agencies, and we were able to work through these organisations to respond quickly and effectively after the floods occurred.”

Aquabox is now sending more aid to both Nepal and Bangladesh over the coming weeks to provide safe drinking water and humanitarian aid to the communities affected, but urgently needs to raise funds for these follow-up shipments and to replenish the strategic stocks held in Nepal.

If you can, please donate through the Aquabox website (www.aquabox.org), or if your company, organisation or club would like to organise a fundraising event and needs any help or advice. Of course when the time comes round again, you can always donate via the VMware Foundation too!

About Aquabox:

Aquabox is a charity affiliated to Rotary International and is based in Wirksworth, Derbyshire.  Established in 1992, Aquabox has shipped over 110,000 boxes of humanitarian aid and filters to provide safe drinking water to communities affected by man-made and natural disasters in more than 50 countries around the world.  The charity relies entirely on donations and fundraising to purchase the aid boxes and their contents. With over 70 volunteers and only one part-time paid administrator, the proportion of donations contributing directly to humanitarian aid is amongst the highest achievable.  Aquabox received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in June 2016, in recognition of the contribution made by the charity and its volunteers and many supporters in helping those in need at times of crisis.

 

Posted by on September 3, 2017 in Announcements

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Vembu BDR Suite v3.8: What’s New?

 

Vembu has released a new version of their BDR Suite (Version 3.8) with a whole host of new features – here’s a round-up!

Disk Image Backup from BDR Server

Disk Image Backups can now be configured and managed via Vembu BDR Server. Relying on proxy agents is no longer required, unless it’s a distributed deployment which require individual proxy agent installation.

FLR from GUI (Backup & Replication)

File Level Recovery(FLR) is now available for both backup and  replication jobs where user can choose specific files and folders from VMware/Hyper-V/Disk Image backups and VMware replication, to be restored in a quick fashion.

Seed load backup data to OffsiteDR

Storing copy of backup data for DR requirements is now an easy task to be accomplished by seed loading backup server data to desired offsite data center. This save loads of time and bandwidth from being consumed.

Auto Authorization

Enabling Auto authorization in Vembu BDR allows proxy agents to get registered to backup server using unique registration key generated by respective BDR server.

Encryption Settings

Users can now provide additional security to their disk based backup jobs by assigning custom-password to backup server, such that all their backup data will be encrypted and can be restored/accessed only by providing the custom-password.

Storage Pooling

Storage Pools are used to aggregate the space available from different volumes and utilise them as a storage for specific backups. The hybrid volume manager of Vembu BDR Server supports scalable and extendable backup storage for different storage media such as Local drives, NAS(NFS and CIFS) and SAN(iSCSI and FC). Vembu BDR provides storage pooling option for both backup level and group level.

MSI Installer : For all Clients

Users will now get the client agents installer as .msi format also.The installer will check for the following packages based on the OS types (32 bit or 64 bit) and it will install the following (if not installed previously),

  • Visual C++ 2008 redistributable packages x86
  • Visual C++ 2008 redistributable packages x64
  • Visual C++ 2013 redistributable packages x64
  • Visual C++ 2015 redistributable packages x86

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Posted by on August 3, 2017 in Announcements

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Updated: Check out Neil Anderson’s (@flackboxtv) “How to Build a NetApp ONTAP 9 Lab

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Neil Anderson has been in touch to again to let me know that he’s produced a NEW extensive guide to building a complete vSphere Lab with NetApp ONTAP 9 as the backend. So its essentially a free eBook to cover the new version. Neil is kinda tooting his own horn but he’s confident my book blows the NetApp setup guide out of the water – He’s got full step by step instructions with screenshots about how to build a fully networked two cluster lab with Windows and Linux clients. I’ve taken a quick gander and I can tell its a quality ‘product’ that might have once found a home on my old “RTFM Education” site from the good old days!

Readers can download it from Neils blog (it’s free of course) and the goal is to help people get their first hands-on look at the new OS

It’s downloadable from http://www.flackbox.com/netapp-simulator/

If you interested with connecting to Neil here’s followable (is that word now?) on twitter here: https://twitter.com/flackboxtv

 

Posted by on June 16, 2017 in Announcements

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VMware {code} Briefing: What’s New with VMware PowerCLI 6.5.1

VMware PowerCLI 6.5.1 was released on April 20th and it contained some significant improvements and changes! Whether you’re an occasional PowerCLI user or a power user, you’re not going to want to miss this special briefing!

https://blogs.vmware.com/code/2017/05/05/vmware-code-briefing-whats-new-vmware-powercli-6-5-1/

 

Posted by on May 8, 2017 in Announcements

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What Next?

So I’m back from my family holiday in Wales with my Mum and Big Brother (no relation to George Orwell). And my thoughts have been turning to what I do next with my time, now that my grown-up gap year feels properly over. I’m not the kind of person who likes to sit on my big fat butt waiting for opportunities to wash up on my shore. So I’ve been thinking about what I can do to ease my way back into the world of work, after my time way. I guess this is always a concern or anxiety that anyone would have during time away from gainful employment. So it’s not just finances that stop people from taking time out from work, as well as those other commitments – mortgage and family usually!

For some months I’ve been volunteering in my local area. Volunteering is a great way to give back to wider society whilst giving your week a focus, not least getting you out and about in the big wide world. I currently volunteer at Derby Museum as well as a local National Trust site called Eyam Hall. I’ve been asked by some what this work is like. The work at the museum started by supporting their recent exhibition on the History of Children’s TV. That was a fun exhibition as we got all age groups coming through, and it really was a little snapshot of how British Culture has changed. My role there as a “Volunteer Ambassador” was just to meet and greet people, and ideally engage with them about the exhibits. It makes such a difference to persons visit- to have a chat with someone, rather than walking through silently through a gallery speaking to no-one. Eyam Hall on the other hand is different kettle of fish. It’s a National Trust property and built around the 16th Century in a village that cut itself off from the world when the plague hit the country. The NT’s approach is to let people wonder and discover, and not ‘impose’ an interpretation on visitors – but its great when folks do ask questions as that means I get the chance to do my best Lucy Worsley impersonation!  My last piece of volunteer work is for local charity called Aquabox. My role there is more work-from-home – in finding new source for fund-raising. So far I’ve managed to get Aquabox listed on the VMware Foundation (and I’m on the look out for other corporate style foundations to add to the list) and applying to official bodies like UK-AID. Anyway, the moral is simple one. If you seeking new employment after being out of the circuit for a while – get volunteering. There are no shortage of areas or opportunities. When I do find employment again – I will probably reduce the time I spend volunteering and move them to the weekend. If you are an employee of big company remember lots of these business now have programs that encourage you taking ‘service hours’ to help good causes. For instance VMware calls this “Service Learning” – http://www.vmware.com/company/foundation.html For the moment – my plan is to ring-fence Thursday and Friday as my volunteering days (these are always times when there is a shortage of people), and use the remainder of the week doing something more IT related.

So one questions I’ve been asking myself is what do on the technical front. Things have moved on since I’ve been away, but they also moved on whilst I was at VMware. If you have a full-time job with a large software vendor – it’s full-time job just keeping up to date with your own responsibilities, never mind peaking over the cube to look at what the rest of the company is doing. So there question has been – do I throw myself in learning more VMware stuff and refreshing existing knowledge OR do I branch out and do something totally different give myself an entirely virgin field to explore? I mean I don’t want to lose my connections with VMware because that’s been such an important technology and company to me in the last 14 years (2003 is when I opened my first VMTN communities account!). But if I’m going to learning its important to learn some brand new to me. The other consideration as well as ever to someone who is on their own and learning without the backing of an employer is what pre-reqs (physical, virtual, software, knowledge) are needed. Do you play to strengths or try to plug gaps in your knowledge that may not be your strengths?

One thing I’ve noticed in the community is significant rise in folks working towards the AWS Certifications. I guess that’s testament to Amazon’s dominance in the Public Cloud space, but also reflects that fact that many in the enterprise world are users of VMware on-premises and Amazon in the off-premises (is that actually word? it feels so odd to type it!). The other interesting thing to me that happened last year – was the collaboration between VMware and Amazon that was announced last year (http://www.vmware.com/cloud-services/vmware-cloud-aws.html) This is currently in a techpreview format, and I think it’s an interesting pivot. There have been lots of different partnerships of this ilk over the years – but I do think this one is significant. The appeal to me is the possibility of cross-over of skills. As we all know find someone who is equally strong in two areas is tricky – and being someone who can comfortable talk about VMware and Amazon with equal authority could be an interest area.

Right now my knowledge of Amazon is pretty thin. Like many I had an account for testing purposes usually of things like VMware vRealise Automation, but also test products that leverage AWS as it related to VMware technologies Revello (now owned by Oracle) and Velostrata. On the plus side, as recent vExpert I have as benefit access to PluralSight’s library of courses. So plan is to use my Mon/Tue/Wed to work through these course, and maybe do the exams associated with Amazon certification. I don’t suspect that this will lead or even relate directly to finding a new role – but what’s important to me is getting my “IT Brain” moving again. The other thought I had is that learning something new will inspire some blogging on my part as well, and that blogging will help (re)build my presence in the community. But also In the spirit of –  learning something new can never hurt….

 

Posted by on April 10, 2017 in Amazon, Announcements

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Employee Alert: VMware Foundation Charity Listing – AQUABOX

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Hello my fellow VMwareans. (Yes, I know that makes people sound like their some kind of alien species that have just landed on planet earth).  Although this post is public on my blog, it’s actually directed at all the folks who work at VMware. I’m currently on my gap year which officially ends at midnight on the 31st Dec, but will mostly like carry on until such time as I find gainful employment. One of the things I’ll be doing in the mean time is volunteering. I had thought of starting in the New Year, to mark the end of this time. But after attending September’s VMworld in Vegas – I realised that there was no time like the present.

If you are searching for Aquabox in the VMware Foundation – change the filter to be “UK” you can locate it Registered Charity Number which is 1098409.  This year the company has allowed you to donate a fixed sum for a good cause, if you donate more this triggers a matching donation from VMware.

What follows below is a description of Aquabox and what we do. I realise many are you time poor, but if you prefer videos. Grab yourself a brew, some M&Ms, and watch this 8 minute YouTube. It will tell you why Aquabox is so important, and how the technology works.

For the rest of you who enjoy reading my excessively verbose blogposts… Hello!

One of my activities is volunteering at local charity to me called Aquabox. I say local to me, because although the technology and concept we developed in the town I now call home, its remit is a global. So what is Aquabox? At the heart of it is a unique and innovative water filter that’s gone through a number of iterations over the years. When a disaster strikes the first thing that goes to pot is the water supply. You can survive for many weeks (if your well nourished) without food, but without clean and non-polluted water you will die in days (and in some cases hours). Historically, the big charities have distributed chlorine tables to kill off water born bugs such as cholera. Have you ever taken a gulp of water in a swimming pool? Think of that, but 100 times worse. So what happens is people in dire straits (and this often includes children who know no better) drink dirty and polluted water – and die not of starvation or thirst, but from the diseases that water contains.

There’s two type of AquaFilter – a Community and Family. As you might imagine the big daddy serves a large number of people, whereas the family is intended for a group of five. As for the Aquabox itself some of the filters have been running for 4 years in Africa. The technology is robust, simple and easy to maintain. As piece of technology its a thing of beauty to any engineer worth their salt, and it’s perfectly fit for its purpose. And of course, it needs to be – given the hostile environment it has to function in. Aquabox has been operating for 20 years – and employs just one part-time manager – the rest of us are volunteers. So you can rest assured that the vast majority of your donation will go to the end-user. Aquabox started its life as part of the Rotary Club Organisation which has a global reach with a good reputation for trustworthiness. So the supply chain of getting the boxes to the family is one that comes with a high integrity.

As for myself. I’ve been packing the boxes which include not just the AquaFilter, but whole host of items a family would need in the first hours, and days of humanitarian crisis. The other thing I’ve been doing is trying to establish other methods of raising funds. As former employee I thought of VMware and you my former colleagues – and the VMware Foundation. I’m exceeding grateful to the folks within the VMware Foundation who have expedited this new beneficiary so swiftly and efficiently. And I’m very grateful to my good friend Hans Bernhardt (who many will know as Chicken Man!) for helping getting the word internally.

By its nature Aquabox  goes everywhere and we operate in the most extreme of situations because that is where the greatest need exists. Aquabox has been helping the many tens of thousands of people who remain trapped inside a war zone in the Aleppo. These include incredibly brave team members from our aid distribution partner Hand in Hand for Syria يدا بيد لنبني سوريا . Hand in Hand in Syria is UK registered charity, and the team at Aquabox have been sending shipments to distribute to Syrian refugee camps, and they have 1,000 Aquaboxes ready to give out to families once they have been evacuated from Aleppo. Very few aid organisations are able to operate in Syria because of the nature of the conflict, and the only way to achieve this is with trusted partners who’s only concern is life and limb.

Of course, Syria is not Aquabox’s most recent recipient of aid. In fact, the main focus has been Hatti. We are continuing to send emergency disaster relief to the people of Haiti whose lives have been thrown into chaos following the devastation of Hurricane Matthew. We are sending a further 250 family sized Aquaboxes, to add to our previous shipments of 500 Aquaboxes and 18 Community Aquafilters.

That timeliness even more acute today. As you have seen Aleppo in Syria is about to fall, sparking yet another massive humanitarian crisis – with mass exodus from the city of almost biblical proportions. I want to put aside any political analyse or opinions, to ask you to think of those people this Christmas Time – the vast majority are innocent civilians just caught in the crossfire. People just like you and me, caught at the wrong place at the wrong time. All too often in our modern media saturated world, tragedy spills out on to our screens. The scale of the suffering can lead you feel to be numb at times. It’s so overwhelming it makes you wonder what can be done. Well, something can be done. An Aquabox can be sent. You can make that happen. Today.

Please think of Aquabox if you if you have the opportunity to donate.

And if you reading this and your not a VMware Employee, there’s nothing stopping your donating from your own pocket. Think of it this way, how much do you spend in coffee shops in a week. Why not give that amount?

 

Posted by on December 16, 2016 in Announcements

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Check out Neil Anderson’s (@flackboxtv) “How to Build a NetApp ONTAP 9 Lab”

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Neil Anderson has been in touch to let me know that he’s produced an extensive guide to building a complete vSphere Lab with NetApp ONTAP 9 as the backend. So its essentially a free eBook to cover the new version. Neil is kinda tooting his own horn but he’s confident my book blows the NetApp setup guide out of the water – He’s got full step by step instructions with screenshots about how to build a fully networked two cluster lab with Windows and Linux clients. I’ve taken a quick gander and I can tell its a quality ‘product’ that might have once found a home on my old “RTFM Education” site from the good old days!

Readers can download it from Neils blog (it’s free of course) and the goal is to help people get their first hands-on look at the new OS

It’s downloadable from http://www.flackbox.com/netapp-simulator/

If you interested with connecting to Neil here’s followable (is that word now?) on twitter here: https://twitter.com/flackboxtv

 

 

Posted by on October 19, 2016 in Announcements

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Do you want to be an author?

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For me writing a book was the next step up from being a blogger. True some of my early “RTFM Eduction” guides got pretty lengthy – but the commitment to writing a book was a whole new order. I really enjoyed the process and understanding how the publishing industry works. Plus there’s the satisifaction of seeing your work on the bookshelf at VMworld – or even you local bookshop. The other thing I would say is if your aim is to build your ID in the community and perhaps getting on the speaking circuit. Of course, a bit like a PhD you can’t measure the value of being an author in dollars and cents (I wouldn’t measure it in pound and pence, in case it devalues further). Its more a sense of achievement. But I would say that writing a book does seperate the men from the boys, and girls from the women. Lets face anyone these days can crank up a blog and write a couple of posts. But its different skill and commitment to write a book. I wouldn’t say your joining an elite officers club either, but you will become part of the support group (see it like Authors Anonymous) who have been there, and done that. Who knows you might actually enjoyed it. After each book I always said it was the last one –  some eight books later – I was still saying it.

My former publisher, McGraw-Hill Education, recently let me know about an authoring opportunity for a new book covering the VCP6-DCV certification exam. They are interested in technical expert(s) with a passion for educating. Ideal candidates will have the VCP6-DCV certification credential and possesses a combination of classroom training experience; course content development; and user group/community participation. They are interested in both prospective authors and technical reviewers. If you are interested, please contact them at authoring@mheducation.com

 

Posted by on October 19, 2016 in Announcements

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Bright Light City…

…gonna set my soul, gonna set my soul on fire….

Just a quick blogpost to tell folks that I will be at VMworld Vegas this year (I arrive late Sunday afternoon). I had some frequent flyer points and hertz points to use. So I was able to cover my cost of travel to the event with minimal costs. A big shout out to the communities folks (you know who you are!) for seeing me clear for a bloggers ticket (not that I’ve been that prolific in this my gap year). I wasn’t sure initially if I was going to make the event – but with a cool head I decide that I couldn’t really not attend, as the event is a great opportunity for me to meet, greet and reconnect with people in the community & industry, and start the process of looking for my next role. I’ve assumed that its going to take anything from 3-6-9 months to find a suitable position – so it doesn’t feel too early to start putting the feelers out (so to speak), as in my experience things can take time to reach fruition. With that said, if there is anyone out there reading this who thinks there might be interesting opportunity that would suit my sort of unique background and skills – do get in touch by the usual methods (linkedin or twitter). As for what I’m looking for I’m open-minded and open to suggestions. Although another stint in vendorland or cloudland seems the most likely place.

After the trip I will be heading off to the Shenandoah National Park in West Virginia. In case you don’t know its part of the Appalachian Trail. I’ve enjoyed to holidays along the trail in the last decade, but I felt I need to see this end of it. Not least so I can take my guitar to the banks of the river, sing Country Roads!

 

Posted by on July 28, 2016 in Announcements

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Open Home Lab Project

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I’m pleased to hear that the Ope Home Lab Project has launched its website today. It’s testament to the guys who provided the inspiration for this project have acted so quickly to move from open discussion to open project so rapidly. As we all know Home Labs have been central to many people’s career development in the last decade, and the topic is a perennial favourite on the VMUG circuit. To date much of the material around home labs has been fragmented across a number of different blogs and forums – and those deciding to take the plunge, have had to resort to many hours of piecing together the information together – and speaking from personal experience – often one bit advice conflicts with another. We’re an opinonated bunch of people who is often a good reflection of different experiences and attitudes.

The Open Lab Project mission is to try to provide a central location where all the neccesary info can be found – whilst maintaining and encouraging that diversity of opinion. Here’s their blurb:

Homelab presentations are some of the most popular at technical user groups. The challenge is that unless they are recorded, the contents of these sessions is always lost at the end of the day, and only the attendees could consume the information and utilise it. What is needed is a method for crowdsourcing and capturing the collective homelab knowledge and experiences of the community, to provide people with a single source of information and advice which will help them make decisions on the best homelab solution for them, based on their individual requirements.

Although the site was started from a VMware user group, we believe that a homelab is a homelab! As such, we are keen for people across the IT community to contribute with their knowledge and tips across operating systems, hypervisors, tools and applications.

Technology agnosticism FTW!

Check It out today!

http://openhomelab.org/

 

Posted by on May 10, 2016 in Announcements

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