May 1

VMworld, Booth Babes, Models in the #MeToo Era

Note: Computer Weekly’s article 2010 gave a what is meant to be a tongue-in-check guide to surviving life as booth babe… I’m NOT quite sure it hits the mark.


On last week’s VMTN Podcast (Talkshoe / Facebook Live) the discussion turned to VMWorld 2018. I asked our genial host, Eric Nielsen what the official VMworld Policy was towards the use of “Booth Babes” or “Models” was in the post-Weinstein, #MeToo era. It can hardly escaped peoples attention that this is a touchstone topic of our era. Recent events in the UK’s “Presidents Club” have highlighted the dangers of employing young women into the murky world of so-called “Corporate Hospitality” and conference events.

There’s something implicitly wrong with it because it is nearly always gender-biased. In that people employed to be “Booth Babes” are nearly universally young women – and the implication is that such events are uniformly populated by heterosexual men, who enjoy ogling women old enough to be their daughters, and in some cases grand-daughters. Of course, that doesn’t apply to everyone. #NotAllMen. However, the implication or message sent out by such activities suggest that the event is not for gay men or women of any sexuality.

I’m not least political correct or wishing to hector or carp. Indeed, a quick scour of the internet you’ll be able to find photos of me with “booth babes” at previous VMworld. This was something I used to do wind-up my EX who was convinced that I was living the high-life at VMworld, rather than busting my butt, and returning to my hotel room utterly shattered. I’m not especially proud of doing this on more levels than just one…

I also recall the discomfort felt at bloggers table one year when John Troyer raised the issue. I made the point that there were no muscle men in little gold metallic hot-pants for the delectation of the gay men or heterosexual women who attended VMworld. My assertion was despite the event being heavily dominated by men, it does rather assume they are heterosexual.

[[[Insert photo of man in gold hot pants]]]

Remember its the sponsors who engage in this crass behaviour. And by doing so they demonstrate scant regard for their clients, customers and attendees – as they assume they are as crass as their PR/Marketing Team. A little story might help illustrate the effect such actions of sponsors has on women attending the event. When I was employed at VMware I attended an event EXPO Event in Docklands – where I was helping a very well-known partner pitch their VMware related offering. As we were setting up one of the partner’s employees sidles up me and asked

“So what about her, eh?” 

He pointed in the general direction of a young woman, no more than 20, in an all in one lycra cycling outfit. Given her age and duties, I think it was safe to say she wasn’t employee, and wasn’t there to engage delegates with the technical merits of her booths technology. This is classic alpha-male “signalling” beloved of many a locker room in High School. It is a classic “are you one of us” test. Given my new status, you can imagine – I didn’t really feel like that I had anything in common with him. The young woman was younger than my step-daughter. I mumbled something and looked away. I felt awkward.

Things took a turn for the worst when the partner turned to a female member of his staff dressed in simple corporate polo shirt – the standard attire of regular booth staffer:

“Why don’t you wear something like that?” he said

So there I am stuck between them. The lady looks at me. And I think what do I do? Do I just let this slide? Do I leave it to her to say something? Looking for way out, I groped for my weapon of first defence – sarcasm.

“So… This must be Phase Two of the diversity and inclusivity training I have heard soooooo much about in your organisation?”

I hope my story gives you an idea of how “booth babes” sanctions and condones a certain level of behaviour – and contributes to making everyone regardless of gender or sexuality, feel incredible awkward, and he’s the important part – unwelcome. This event is not for you it says…


Anyway, back to my story. I asked Eric for VMware’s official policy on “booth babes” and “models” is…. Here’s what he was able to dig out for me….


“Hi here is what the event team responded with. I know they have kicked non-compliant vendors off the floor in years past. Since those high profile events, vendors take it seriously as does VMware.

———- event team response ——

Hi Eric,

Here’s our booth staff policy. This is part of the Rules and Regulations document that all sponsors and exhibitors must accept in order to participate in the event.

Booth Staff
* VMware discourages the use of professional talent for booth or demonstration staff. Show Management reserves the right to remove any person(s) from the Event or Mandalay Bay Convention Center that do not have an Event badge, are improperly badged, are unprofessionally or objectionably dressed or other persons that behave in a manner deemed unprofessional or objectionable by Show Management.

Amanda Johnson
Sponsorship Manager, Global Events


I think it is great that VMware has policy. But I have some concerns.

Firstly, I’m little bit troubled about the use of the term “discourages”. A stronger term would be “prohibits”.

Secondly, the emphasis on appearance rather misses a point (whilst highlighting an issue with the way some “booth babes” are scantily clad and often sexualised) For me the bigger issue is not this issue of how someone is dressed (I might add this is a deeply subjective judgement call) but the fact that anyone even someone “professionally attired” is at booth for how they look, not for what they know about a technology or what they contribute to the company.

I feel a better policy would prohibit professional “talent” or “demonstration staff” – and opt for “employees only” policy. I recognise this might unduly hit contractors who work for these companies, but aren’t on the payroll. But I feel unless a policy is 100% clear, it is open to “creative interpretation” and outright abuse. It could also impact on entertainment that is harmless – such as the magic acts you sometimes see. Perhaps once we have rid the IT sector “booth babes” the policy could be relaxed or allow for more discretion.

Finally, any policy of any type is really only as good as its enforcement. Eric reassures me that VMware takes this seriously, and due to its enforcement in the past – vendors have got the message. I wasn’t at last years VMworld so I can’t testify to that. I would be interested to know what you think?

Let me know via twitter?

Category: VMworld | Comments Off on VMworld, Booth Babes, Models in the #MeToo Era
May 1

What works best Clean Install or Dirty Upgrade?: VMware ESXi Upgrade on HP ML350e Gen8

One of the most common questions I was asked when I was an instructor was “what works best, clean install or an upgrade”. Without fail it was the kind of question everyone already had their own answer to. So I couldn’t add much to the debate, although I knew where I stood.

The upgrade process for vSphere with its myriad of service dependences is getting longer, and longer – and thornier and thornier. Even so despite an in-place upgrade taking a long time – its is still the best route considering the impact of clean installation. About the ONLY thing I’d would be tempted to do a clean install of is VMware ESXi, but that comes now with its own set of complications not least if the customer uses VMware’s Distributed Switches.

So this blog is NOT an agonising blow-by-blow of upgrading that would rival your teeth being extracted. It’s high-level view of the upgrade (just of vCenter and ESX and nowt else) and what that feels like.

VMware vCenter/PSC Upgrade on vCSA

This went preachy-smooth, and despite having the complicated “external” PSC and vCenter model to allow for “Enhanced Linked Mode” the upgrade process was lengthy, but easy and worked perfectly first time. It’s not so much an “upgrade” process, more of duplication/mirror process – as the the upgrade wizard spawns a duplicate vCenter and PSC, and then sets about copying the data from one to the other. At the end their IPs are inverted and the old vCenter/PSC is shutdown. The only danger here is if you do reboots and bring up the old vCenter/PSC by mistake. I did that once which was confusing. The nice thing about this process is that its non-intrusive to the Old vCenter/PSC. So if something goes pear-shaped (as opposed to peachy-smooth) you have a failback position

Verdict: Upgrade, fill your boots!

VMware ESXi Upgrade on HP ML350e Gen8

For me this was a less than good experience. I could only get just one of my three hosts to upgrade. Some issue with Update Manager in the end. By the end of it I realise that kickstart script install from my UDA was the only way to go – so the dirty upgrade fails, and a clean install won the day. Perhaps my upgrade issues were caused by much more intractable problem – my servers aren’t even on the HCL anymore!

I have 3x HP ML350e Towers – and they fell off the HCL around the time of vSphere 6.0 U3

Despite this – there was release from HPE that was dubbed pre-Gen10 of vSphere 6.6 U1 – this was the build called “VMware-ESXi-6.5.0-Update1-6765664-HPE-650.U1.”, if you accidentally installed the build that came after it called “VMware-ESXi-6.5.0-Update1-7388607-HPE-650.U1.” in Feb of this year – you would be installing a code based designed for a Gen9/10 server – and that would make the fans go bizzy and cause alarms and alerts in vCenter…

Things don’t tend to go back on the HCL once they have left it – and I think I was lucky that there was a pre-Gen9 custom image to work with my Gen8 systems. I don’t expect to see this at all with vSphere 6.7.

Both the vSphere 6.7 generic and 6.7 from HPE successful install to my HP ML350e Gen8s. But its not without complication. The fans go faster and so the lab makes more noise – and fan alarm is trigger is lit in vSphere 6.7.

Put simply before the vSphere 6.7 install. The fans were going much slower, and vCenter had no alarms.

Note: vSphere 6.5 U1 – Fans at 6%


Note: vSphere 6.7 – Fans at 25%


Note: vCenter lights up like a Christmas Tree!

Merely acknowledging or “Reset to Green” only causes this alarm to temporarily to be dismissed before it comes back again like a bad smell or penny. The only way to turn off this “false positive” is by disabling the alarm itself. Navigate to:

>> Global Inventory Lists  >> vCenters >>Select vCenter FQDN >>Configure  >>More >>Alarm Definitions

Search for the alarm called “Host hardware fan status“. Select and click the Disable button


Category: vSphere | Comments Off on What works best Clean Install or Dirty Upgrade?: VMware ESXi Upgrade on HP ML350e Gen8
April 30

Flash! Ahhhh! You Killed Everyone Of Us!

One the more pleasing aspects of vSphere 6.7 is the extension of the HTML5 client to cover more functionality. 95% feature parity with the Ye Old Flash Web-Client of teeth-extraction fame. Make no bones about it the HTML5 client above is the bees-knees – mainly because in comparison to its slow-coach predecessor it is blisteringly quick. Indeed, switching back to the previous version of the client that replaced the previous version of the client, that worked prefect fine – is an unpleasant reminder of how dreadful it was… However, there is something jivey about the way this simultaneous release of 3 different clients at one stage happened. This isn’t “Agile” devlopment its “Fragile” development at its worst – and sends a confused jagged and jarring message to customers. I would have preferred to have waited until 7.0 and full-release of a brand-new shinny clients. Rather than the HTML5 client being dribbled out in dribs and drabs.

I doubt very much if any customer purchases a product on the strength of the client front-end. I mean if they did with VMware they’d get a lot of bang for the buck when 3 of them were available. 😉 After all most customers are either automating much of the tasks it offers with PowersHell, or with some other overlay that abstracts away the complexity of full fat Web-Client.

With that said there is a tier of customers for whom vSphere is just 10-20% of their daily admin tasks (if that) and for whom an intuitive and easy to use interface is a must. Because unlike hard-core VMware-Fanatics like myself, they only log into it if the have need too. There’s some aspects of the new HTML5 client that irritate and some aspects that are broken.

Note: Is it me or is bug-eyed weird that VSAN doesn’t exist as service along side DRS and HA. But instead is a category within which there are services?

I’ve yet to see either the Flash Web-Client or the HTML5 Web-Client successfully handle OVF/OVA exports and imports – with me having to resort to the use of OVFTOOL to get a process that is reliable and dependable.

Category: vSphere | Comments Off on Flash! Ahhhh! You Killed Everyone Of Us!
April 24

Reading The F****** Manual: Setting Up VMware PowerCLI 10.x

lIf you visit the website you’d be forgiven for thinking that PowerCLI is now on version 6.5 Release 1

However, you would be wrong because a blogpost in Nov, 2017 announced the release of 6.5.3, which downloadable from this community page:

But wait.

Hang on. Uh-oh.

Wrong again.

The latest and greatest version of PowerCLI is actually version 10. And is downloadable using generic PowerShell commands from the PowerShell Gallery.


Do keep up…

Your supposed to just know this by reading some obscure blogpost which links you to the PowerShell Gallery with positively NO instructions on how to set it up. Man, someone could really do with RTFM this – to make it easy for new people to get hold of.

So.. Drum roll here’s how its done.

1. Run PowersHell from your system – ensuring that use RunAs Administrator:

2. Type

Install-Module -Name VMware.PowerCLI

3. Choose [Y] to download and install the Nuget update engine

4. Chose [A] to get download all of the PowerCLI modules

5. Make a cup of tea whilst stuff downloads and unzips itself

6. Once this completes. Your not done yet. Just because the modules have been download and unzip – that doesn’t mean they have been loaded. That’s something you’ll need to do yourself. If you simple type connect-viserver you will get an error message like so:

There are lots of modules that contain lots of cmdlets (is that CMD-lets or “Command-Lets?)

VMware.VimAutomation.Sdk (≥
VMware.VimAutomation.Common (≥
VMware.VimAutomation.Core (≥
VMware.VimAutomation.Srm (≥
VMware.VimAutomation.License (≥
VMware.VimAutomation.Vds (≥
VMware.VimAutomation.Vmc (≥
VMware.VimAutomation.Nsxt (≥
VMware.VimAutomation.vROps (≥
VMware.VimAutomation.Cis.Core (≥
VMware.VimAutomation.HA (≥
VMware.VimAutomation.HorizonView (≥
VMware.VimAutomation.PCloud (≥
VMware.VimAutomation.Cloud (≥
VMware.DeployAutomation (≥
VMware.ImageBuilder (≥
VMware.VimAutomation.Storage (≥
VMware.VimAutomation.StorageUtility (≥
VMware.VumAutomation (≥

7. You cannot just run the command Import-Module VMware.VimAutomation.Core on clean system UNTIL you set your Execution Policy like so:

Set-ExecutionPolicy -ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned

8. Followed by:

Import-Module VMware.VimAutomation.Core

9. Followed by opting out of the Customer Experience Program with:

Set-PowerCLIConfiguration -Scope User -ParticipateInCEIP $false

10. Before you make your first connect-viserver connection to your vCenter. You need to decide if you just going accept untrusted self-sign certificates that a generated during the install of VMware ESX and VMware vCenter – or whether you want go thru the ball-ache of issuing your own certificates. In a homelab environment your probably going just going to get rid of any warnings with:

Set-PowerCLIConfiguration -InvalidCertificateAction ignore -confirm:$false

There are two more steps left before you can use PowerCLI…

11. Firstly, wonder what became off PowerCLI 7, 8, and 9.

12. Wonder if this is actually progress… 🙂

13. But wait again. It is progress and here’s why. Once you have gone through all this hoop jumping updating the PowerCLI modules, doesn’t mean downloading yet an another package and in install. Up merely running an update from with the PowerCLI session likes so:

Update-Module -Name VMware.PowerCLI

In my case this updated the modules from 6.5 to 6.7 release of vSphere:

———- ——- —- —————-
Script… VMware.DeployAutomation {Add-DeployRule, Add-ProxyServer, Add-ScriptBundle, Copy-DeployRule…}
Script… VMware.ImageBuilder {Add-EsxSoftwareDepot, Add-EsxSoftwarePackage, Compare-EsxImageProfile, Export-EsxImageProfile…}
Manifest 10.0.0…. VMware.PowerCLI
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Cis.Core {Connect-CisServer, Disconnect-CisServer, Get-CisService}
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Cloud {Add-CIDatastore, Connect-CIServer, Disconnect-CIServer, Get-Catalog…}
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Common
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Core {Add-PassthroughDevice, Add-VirtualSwitchPhysicalNetworkAdapter, Add-VMHost, Add-VMHostNtpServer…}
Script… VMware.VimAutomation.HA Get-DrmInfo
Script… VMware.VimAutomation.HorizonView {Connect-HVServer, Disconnect-HVServer}
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.License Get-LicenseDataManager
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Nsxt {Connect-NsxtServer, Disconnect-NsxtServer, Get-NsxtService}
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.PCloud {Connect-PIServer, Disconnect-PIServer, Get-PIComputeInstance, Get-PIDatacenter}
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Sdk {Get-PSVersion, Get-InstallPath}
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Srm {Connect-SrmServer, Disconnect-SrmServer}
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Storage {Add-KeyManagementServer, Copy-VDisk, Export-SpbmStoragePolicy, Get-KeyManagementServer…}
Script VMware.VimAutomation.StorageUtility Update-VmfsDatastore
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Vds {Add-VDSwitchPhysicalNetworkAdapter, Add-VDSwitchVMHost, Export-VDPortGroup, Export-VDSwitch…}
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Vmc {Connect-Vmc, Disconnect-Vmc, Get-VmcService, Connect-VmcServer…}
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.vROps {Connect-OMServer, Disconnect-OMServer, Get-OMAlert, Get-OMAlertDefinition…}
Script… VMware.VumAutomation {Add-EntityBaseline, Copy-Patch, Get-Baseline, Get-Compliance…}

Script… VMware.DeployAutomation {Add-DeployRule, Add-ProxyServer, Add-ScriptBundle, Copy-DeployRule…}
Script… VMware.DeployAutomation {Add-DeployRule, Add-ProxyServer, Add-ScriptBundle, Copy-DeployRule…}
Script… VMware.ImageBuilder {Add-EsxSoftwareDepot, Add-EsxSoftwarePackage, Compare-EsxImageProfile, Export-EsxImageProfile…}
Script… VMware.ImageBuilder {Add-EsxSoftwareDepot, Add-EsxSoftwarePackage, Compare-EsxImageProfile, Export-EsxImageProfile…}
Manifest 10.1.0…. VMware.PowerCLI
Manifest 10.0.0…. VMware.PowerCLI
Script… VMware.Vim
Script 10.1.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Cis.Core {Connect-CisServer, Disconnect-CisServer, Get-CisService}
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Cis.Core {Connect-CisServer, Disconnect-CisServer, Get-CisService}
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Cloud {Add-CIDatastore, Connect-CIServer, Disconnect-CIServer, Get-Catalog…}
Script 10.1.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Common
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Common
Script 10.1.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Core {Add-PassthroughDevice, Add-VirtualSwitchPhysicalNetworkAdapter, Add-VMHost, Add-VMHostNtpServer…}
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Core {Add-PassthroughDevice, Add-VirtualSwitchPhysicalNetworkAdapter, Add-VMHost, Add-VMHostNtpServer…}
Script… VMware.VimAutomation.HA Get-DrmInfo
Script… VMware.VimAutomation.HorizonView {Connect-HVServer, Disconnect-HVServer}
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.License Get-LicenseDataManager
Script 10.1.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Nsxt {Connect-NsxtServer, Disconnect-NsxtServer, Get-NsxtService}
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Nsxt {Connect-NsxtServer, Disconnect-NsxtServer, Get-NsxtService}
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.PCloud {Connect-PIServer, Disconnect-PIServer, Get-PIComputeInstance, Get-PIDatacenter}
Script 10.1.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Sdk
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Sdk {Get-PSVersion, Get-InstallPath}
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Srm {Connect-SrmServer, Disconnect-SrmServer}
Script 10.1.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Storage {Add-KeyManagementServer, Copy-VDisk, Export-SpbmStoragePolicy, Get-KeyManagementServer…}
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Storage {Add-KeyManagementServer, Copy-VDisk, Export-SpbmStoragePolicy, Get-KeyManagementServer…}
Script VMware.VimAutomation.StorageUtility Update-VmfsDatastore
Script 10.1.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Vds {Add-VDSwitchPhysicalNetworkAdapter, Add-VDSwitchVMHost, Export-VDPortGroup, Export-VDSwitch…}
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Vds {Add-VDSwitchPhysicalNetworkAdapter, Add-VDSwitchVMHost, Export-VDPortGroup, Export-VDSwitch…}
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.Vmc {Connect-Vmc, Disconnect-Vmc, Get-VmcService, Connect-VmcServer…}
Script 10.0.0…. VMware.VimAutomation.vROps {Connect-OMServer, Disconnect-OMServer, Get-OMAlert, Get-OMAlertDefinition…}
Script… VMware.VumAutomation {Add-EntityBaseline, Copy-Patch, Get-Baseline, Get-Compliance…}

If you wish to always open PowerCLI when you open PowersHell, you can create shortcut to it like so:

C:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe -noe -c "Import-Module VMware.PowerCLI"

And finally, because PowerShell/PowerCLI is so chuffing great and functional, there’s even a GitHub edition of PowerShell for Linux and Mac (take that up the ass Perl and Bash!)


Category: vSphere | Comments Off on Reading The F****** Manual: Setting Up VMware PowerCLI 10.x
April 12

New Nested vSphere6.5 and vSphere 6.7 VSAN Cluster OVF

Acknowledgement: I’d like to thank William Lam’s work and his blog VirtualGhetto – to whom this work and blogpost would not have been possible. In many ways my work is just minor adjunct to his efforts: Thanks William! 🙂

Update: Since publishing this – William has released a new version of his template. Given the time and effort I put into validating my work – I’m going to keep mine available too. I’m still testing this on vSphere6.7 which what held me back releasing it sooner…

Note: This template will not work with VMware Fusion, and has NOT been tested with VMware Workstation

IMPORTANT: This configuration has been tested in vSphere 6.7, but I had to wait for the public drop. Despite working with VMware technologies since 2004, I was not invited to the preview. Additionally, I cannot do any verification work on vSphere 7.0 because I haven’t been approved for the beta.


As you might gather from my recent post on using VMware “ovftool” I’ve been looking at the process of importing and exporting VMs into a OVF/OVA format for a particular reason. One of my projects this year is to master VMware’s VSAN technology. You might remember I had a role previously in VMware’s Hyper-convergence Team, where I got more than plenty of exposure – but things have moved on considerably in the two-years I’ve been away. And my goal is to write in depth on the topic – beyond the shorter for blog format. More about that at later date!

I’ve got pretty good hardware at my home lab – but no SSD in my servers – and I’m not about to go dipping even further into my savings to do that. Not when I have hours worth of vExpert time on the Oracle Ravello Cloud – as well as access to SSD storage on my Synology NAS and local storage on the VMware ESXi host. It makes much more sense to go for nested vSphere 6.5U1 or vSphere6.7 configuration where a mere edit to the .VMX file marks a .VMDK as a SSD rather than an a HDD.

After a tiny amount googling it became clear that vSphere6.5U1 and vSphere 6.7 offered many enhancements for the nested vSphere homelab particularly if its is running on top of a physical VMware ESXi host or vSphere HA/DRS Cluster. More specifically fellow vExpert – William Lam –  VirtuallyGhetto site rounds these enhancements in a blogpost very neatly which he wrote back in October, 2016:

So whether you running VMware ESXi or in “Da Cloud” as the basis for your lab – it was time to take advantage of improvements. I knew from memory that William had a range of different VSAN templates – which I thought I could use as the basis of a “new” Nested vSphere 6.x VSAN Cluster. Sadly, I’ve tried to contact William via Twitter and LinkedIn to discuss this – but I’ve not heard back from him. I think he must bizzy with other projects or like me is having a sabbatical from work. If you interested the “source” for my OVF template came from William’s blog here which he posted back in Feb, 2015:

Note: I’ve only tested this on a physical VMware ESXi host. It won’t work on VMware Fusion 10 does not yet support the VMware Paravirtual SCSI Controller. I don’t have access to a physical Windows PC with the necessary CPU attributes to test this with VMware Workstation. I’d recommend to Fusion/Workstations customers that you use the slightly older templates provided by William as I know it definitely won’t work on Fusion, Workstation is a mystery.

OVF Virtual Hardware Specification:

Anyway, I’ve taken William’s original 6-node nested VSAN OVF template which he built to demonstrate “Fault Domains” and made some changes – and spat thing back out for others to use.

My personal goal when ever I have done nesting has been to have something that resembles the customers physical world as much possible (I’m limited two physical NICs in my physical homelab which makes playing with Distributed Switches awkward…). As you might have gather increasingly I’m not someone who naturally predisposed to compromises. I was even tempted to even mirror the disk sub-system of the type of hyper-converge appliance – that might have 24 disk slots divided over 4 nodes in 2U chassis – like a vXRAIL. But I thought that was starting to get a bit silly!

Like me you will want to deploy the OVA to the FASTEST storage you have. For me my fastest storage happens to be to be my Synology NAS which is backed by SSD drives.

Here’s an overview of my customisation so folks know what’s changed.

More Hosts:

  • I’ve increased the number of nodes from 6 to 8. This allows for proper use of maintenance mode as well allowing for enough nodes to test “Fault Domains”. Remember you can dial down your number of nodes to suit your physical resources.

Bigger Hosts:

  • Upgraded to Virtual Hardware Level 13 (Requires an VMware ESX 6.5 or VMware ESX 6.7
  • Change Guest Operation System type from vSphere 5.x to vSphere 6.x
  • Increased the number of nodes from 6 to 8 to allow for maintenance mode to work correctly, fault domains and the emulation of a stretched VSAN configuration aka two 4-node VSAN clusters that look like they are two locations – remember you only need one vCenter to do this…
  • After some testing – I discovered the old RAM allocation of 6GB wasn’t sufficient for VSAN to configure itself in vSphere 6.5 and vSphere 6.7. So I had to increase the nested ESXi RAM allocation to 10GB and this seemed to fix most issues. I did try with 8GB of RAM with this configuration I found it was like having my teeth pulled. 10GB worked every time – smooth as a baby’s bottom. 🙂

Better Networking:

  • Removed the 2xE1000 NICs, and added 4xVMXNET – The additional NICS allow for easy both vSwitch and DvSwitch play time! It means I can keep the “core” management networks on a vSwitch0, and have virtual machine networking on a DvSwitch. Some might regard this as Old Skool an reminiscent of the 1Gb days when people thought 16 uplinks per host was a good idea. And they be right, and of course is not option in the physical world where the server might only have two 10Gb ports presented to it.

More Disks and Bigger Disks:

  • Removed the LSILOGIC Controller with the VMware Paravirtualised Storage Controller
  • Increased the boot disk from 2GB to 8GB – This means you now get a local VMFS volume with logs stored on the disk. Despite the ability to PXE/SD-CARD/SATADOM boot VMware ESXi it seems like many SysAdmins still install to 2xHHD mirrored or to FC-SAN LUN/Volume. Initially with vSphere 6.5 U1 this was set to 6GB, but with the release of vSphere 6.7, I had to up this value to 8GB.
  • I’ve increased the size of the SSD and HHD disks and also their number. The sizes reflect conceptually that unless you have All-Flash VSAN generally you have more HHD backed storage than SSD…
  • There is extra 2xSSD and 2xHHD per Virtual/Nested ESXi nodes – this allows for the setup of more than “VSAN Disk Group”. However, as the indication of a disk as SSD or HHD in nested environment the template does support all-Flash, and single VSAN Disk Group configurations. That’s your call.
  • All VMDK’s are marked to be thinly-provisioned to save on space…
  • All SSD drives are 10GB and all HDD drives are 15GB to make even easier to identify them – although VSAN itself does a good job of ID disk type.

Clearly this “Beefed Up” nested vSphere6.x VSAN cluster is going to consume more resources than the one previously built by William Lam. But there’s a coupe of things to bear in mind.

  • Firstly, if you only need 3 or 4 VSAN nodes – then simply do not power up other nodes or delete them
  • Secondly, If you do not require the additional SSD/HHD disks and are not interested in the delete those (before you enable VSAN!)

Download and Import:

The ONLY way to import the .OVA below is using the OVFTOOL. This is because it uses settings that a standard GUI import reports as unsupported. Specifically, the vCenter “Deploy OVF” file options has a problem with the SCSI Controller type called “VirtualSCSI”. I’m not sure WHY this happens. Either its broken, or is only partial implementation of the OVF import process and simple doesn’t not recognise the VMware Paravirtual SCSI Controller

To import the OVA, first download and install the OVFTOOL for your workstation type.

Then download the OVA file into a workstation environment that has access to your physical ESXi host or physical vSphere deployment:

For a VMware ESXi host managed by vCenter residing in a DRS Cluster:

Sample: To Deploy vApp to existing DRS/HA Physical Cluster:

"C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware OVF Tool\ovftool.exe" --acceptAllEulas --noSSLVerify=true --skipManifestCheck --allowExtraConfig --extraConfig:scsi0:0.virtualSSD=0 --extraConfig:scsi0:1.virtualSSD=0 --extraConfig:scsi0:2.virtualSSD=1 --extraConfig:scsi0:3.virtualSSD=0 --extraConfig:scsi0:4.virtualSSD=1 -ds="esx01nyc_local" -dm="thin" --net:"VM Network"="VM Network" "C:\Users\Michelle Laverick\Downloads\Nested-ESXi-8-Node-VSAN-6.5-1-5.ova" "vi://administrator@vsphere.local:VMware1!@vcnyc.corp.local/New York/host/Cluster1"

Note: The virtualSDD settings is where all the excitement happens. And allows you to control the disk configuration of this single OVA. For instance:

This setting –extraConfig:scsi0:0.virtualSSD=0 –extraConfig:scsi0:1.virtualSSD=0 –extraConfig:scsi0:2.virtualSSD=1 –extraConfig:scsi0:3.virtualSSD=0 –extraConfig:scsi0:4.virtualSSD=1  would allow for two disk groups – creates a nested VSAN with one HHD and one SSD per disk group

This setting –extraConfig:scsi0:0.virtualSSD=1 –extraConfig:scsi0:1.virtualSSD=1 –extraConfig:scsi0:2.virtualSSD=1 –extraConfig:scsi0:3.virtualSSD=1 –extraConfig:scsi0:4.virtualSSD=1 would import the template to be All-Flash VSAN

This setting –extraConfig:scsi0:0.virtualSSD=0 –extraConfig:scsi0:1.virtualSSD=1 –extraConfig:scsi0:2.virtualSSD=0 –extraConfig:scsi0:3.virtualSSD=0 –extraConfig:scsi0:4.virtualSSD=0 would import the template for a single disk group with one SSD and 3xHDD. 

Of course the disk sizes would be a bit odd with some HHD being 10GB or 15GB. And in the case of all-flash a mix of SSD that were a combination of 10GB and 15GB. This isn’t the end of the world, and still works. Remember you can remove these disks if you rather not have 2x SDD for playing with VSAN “Disk Groups”. My example uses ds=”thin” but you may get better performance by using “thick” as the disk format. Finally, once imported you could increase the size of the SSD and HDD for capacity purposes.

For a Stand-Alone ESXi host using local storage only as an example:

Sample: To Deploy vApp to Stand-Alone Physical ESXi Host:

for /l %x in (1, 1, 8) do "C:\Program Files\VMware\VMware OVF Tool\ovftool.exe" --acceptAllEulas --noSSLVerify=true --skipManifestCheck --allowExtraConfig --extraConfig:scsi0:0.virtualSSD=0 --extraConfig:scsi0:1.virtualSSD=1 --extraConfig:scsi0:2.virtualSSD=0 --extraConfig:scsi0:3.virtualSSD=1 --extraConfig:scsi0:4.virtualSSD=0 -ds="esx01nyc_local" -dm="thin" --net:"VM Network"="VM Network" "C:\Users\Michelle Laverick\Downloads\Nested-ESXi-8-Node-VSAN-6.5-1-5-ESXi-%x.ova" "vi://root:VMware1!@esx01nyc.corp.local"

NOTE: In this example a FOR /L loop is used to run the command 8 times (loop starts at number 1, increments at 1, and ends when it reaches 8 – hence 1, 1,8) , each time processing an OVA file for each node. Stand-alone ESXi host have no understanding of the “vApp” construct so this is a quick and dirty way to import a bundle of them using a consistent filename convention. I’m sure there MUST be a quicker, smart and less dumb way to do this – and I will update this page if I find it…

IMPORTANT: Don’t bother doing the import without the OVFTOOL otherwise you will see this error – its shows the vSphere6.5U1 and vSphere 6.7 Web-Clients inability to import a VM with VMware Paravirtual SCSI Controller enabled which it calls by the name of “VirtualSCSI”


  • Importing the OVA and Control where it runs: Using the parameters of the ovftools import can give you more control. For instance – import to local storage if you want to “peg” each of the nodes to a specific host, and protect yourself from accidentally filling up your home NAS. Plus once pegged to a specific host, you can use VM Start-Up and Shutdown options to always bring up the ESXi virtual nodes when you power up your physical ESXi host. Another option if your physical layer is vSphere Cluster is to use your home NAS for performance – but import to portgroups that only exist on some hosts. For instance “nested” only appears on esx01/esx02 but not on esx03 (which runs “infrastructure” services such as AD, vCenter, Jumpbox and so on). This emulate having a “management host” which is seperated and distinct from the hosts running the nested ESXi nodes. They can never be “VMotioned” to you “management host” as it doesn’t have all the “nested” portgroups.
  • Importing the OVA and Set Disk Types: The template defaults to using “Thin Provisioning” for the VMDK. This is sub-par for performance. If you know the size of the disk that will store the nested nodes. Using the flag –diskMode can over-ride this default to switch to the mode “thick”. This pre-provisions the disks upfront, but you do need the capacity on the physical disk to do this.
  • Importing the OVA and Set Disk Sizes: The default disk set contains just-enough-disks to do multiple disk groups in VSAN. However, if “capacity” is your issue – I would delete disk4/5 in the VM, and increase the size of disks 2/3 which is the SSD/HDD respectively. In my case I worked out the size of the volume/LUN/disk where the nested cluster is stored – divide by the number of nodes, and reserve 20% that space for the SSD, and the rest as HHD. Remember don’t forget the nested node when powered on will reserver a swapfile at power on at 10GB per node. Remember if you come close to filling a disk, this likely to trigger warnings and alarms in vCenter or the ESXi host. You can choose to ignore these if you are confident the storage of the nested VSAN is fully allocated.
  • Update your vCenter/ESXi hosts: Make sure you a do VMware Update of the vCenter and Hosts – even if you have a relatively recent version of vCenter/ESX. Bugs exists, and tools exist to fix bugs. Use them. I like to do my VCSA updates from the Management UI that listens on 5480 – and then use Update Manager to remediate the hosts. The majority of this post was tested on vSphere 6.5U1 but didn’t play nicely until the host were upgraded from VMware ESXi, 6.5.0, 5146846 to
  • Later it was tested on the new release of vSphere 6.7. A number of changes were triggered by testing this nested VSAN setup on the new software and this included
    • Even more memory up from 10GB to 12GB!
    • vSphere 6.7 requires you setup VSAN using the new HTML5 client. More about this shift in a companion blogpost
    • Virtual Disk sizes increased – without a large disk a spurious alarm called “VSAN max component size” was triggered. The case comes from the fact that the disk is size is small. Yes, a mini value triggers a “max” alarm. This is so wrong on so many levels its hard to explain.
  • Confirm Networking: Make sure you physical switch supports Jumbo Frames, That the Physical ESXi hosts are enabled for 9000 MTU and that the vSwitch is enabled for Accept, Accept, Accept on the Security Settings
  • Build Order: I would recommend creating empty cluster, adding hosts – patch the hosts – and then enable VSAN afterwards
    • Create TWO VSAN Disk Groups: Until ALL the disks are allocated to an existing disk group or a second disk group is created – you will receive a warning from VSAN “Configuration Assistant”  – that not all disks have been claimed
    • Enable other Cluster Features: Once VSAN is functionally – you can enable DRS first, followed by HA. I like to turn on each type of vSphere Cluster feature and confirm works – rather than going all guns blazing and enabling everything at once.
  • Finally use the “Configuration Assist” to valid all is well. By default a warning will appear for “Hardware Compatibility” as the VMware Paravirtual SCSI controller used in nested environments like this isn’t on the HCL. And will never be!

  • If this “hardware compatibility” warning really offends you – it is possible using the RVC console utility to disable tests – that are false positives. For example if SSH into the vCenter that owns the VSAN cluster (in my case vcnj.corp.local – and run the RVC console – this command will add this test of the HCL to the silent list. You do this by SSH into the VCSA as “root” using an IP/FQDN – typing “bash” running RVC and authenticating with your administrator@vsphere.local account…. Phew. I’ve never come across a more obtuse way gaining access to a command-line tool! '1/New Jersey/computers/Cluster1' -a 'controlleronhcl'

Successfully add check “SCSI controller is VMware certified” to silent health check list for VSAN Cluster

With vSphere 6.7 I had a number of other bogus alarms that needed to be cleared using: '1/New Jersey/computers/Cluster1' -a 'smalldiskstest'

Note: vSphere 6.5 U1 passes with flying colours

Note: vSphere 6.7 passes with flying colours

Here we can see that the question is “SCSI controller VMware Certified” has been skipped…


What will Michelle do next? I dunno. I like to keep folks guessing. Something fun. Something useful to myself and others. Enjoy.

I did some experimentation with the performance of my nested vSAN. It’s important to know that the performance reflects the non-native performance created by nesting – and is not a reflection of physical VSAN performance characteristics.

Firstly on my hosts this how much a 4-node nested VSAN consumed at rest (just running ESXi and not doing very much.

So despite my 4xvESXI needing 10GB each – actually they consumed 28GB leaving 35GB on my physical host (which has 64GB of RAM). They consumed about 45GB from a 458.25GB local VMFS drive. A clone of a Windows 2016 VM from my Synology SAN across the wire to this local “VSAN” storage very slow. It took all night and by the morning still hadn’t completed the boot process.

I tried the same process with a “MicroLinux” – and despite it being tiny the clone process was a bit quicker taking 5mins of 1GB thin virtual disk (350MB in use). Perhaps it would be quicker once the MicroLinux was initially copied to the VSAN – taking the source template out of the loop. I did think this made a difference – the copy time came down to 2mins for the MicroLinux. The verdict is storing the nested VSAN on local storage in this way is subpar for performance – that’s because my local VMFS disk was just a SATA drive on a generic HP controller. Clearly, one would get better throughput with an SSD drive.

I decided to pivot my nested VSAN off local storage to my SDD backed Synology NAS to see if performance improved. For instance the Win2016 image took about 20-30mins to clone a 40GB VM from the Synology’s iSCSI layer into the nested VSAN layer – also this was quite reliable. So it looks at if the cloning process was the source of the bottleneck.

You will get much better performance using a “super-skinny” version of Linux such as the MicroCore Linux available from my downloads page. This is the VM used in VMware Hands-on-Lab’s and contains a copy of “Open Source” Tools. Its not the skinniest of skinny linux but its is very functional. Navigate to Download, scroll down to “Small Linux VMs for a Home Lab”

Category: vSphere | Comments Off on New Nested vSphere6.5 and vSphere 6.7 VSAN Cluster OVF
April 3

Using OVFTool

I’ve been using vSphere 6.5 for a few weeks and noticed a couple of oddness surrounding OVFs and OVAs. For those who maybe unfamiliar OVF/OVA is packaging format that allows you to easily import and export VMs – and is a recognise format beyond VMware’s boundaries that’s adopted almost universal industry acceptance. An OVA is just a gzip file which contains the OVF file itself (which is merely text descriptor) together with the VMDK’s that make up the VM.

Generally, I’ve found importing OVAs/OVFs is pretty easy and relative reliable – even though you often tussle initially with web-browser security settings and uploading/downloading of files. Sadly, I’ve found the export process can be a bit 50:50 and the resulting OVF generated unusable…

Firstly, we appear to have lost the ability to export to an OVA from the vSphere Web-Client altogether – that’s a disappointment to me because I quite like the simplicity of the simple OVA bundle. It’s not clear to me if this deliberate or an oversight by the vSphere Web-Client development team OR if this hints at some policy of moving away from OVA as companion to OVF.

Secondly, the resulting OVF file that’s exported (there was the appropriate files) gave me an unpleasant error message 🙁

Continue reading

Category: vSphere | Comments Off on Using OVFTool
March 28

California here I Come – Cloud Field Day

Very soon I will be heading of San Jose, CA for the start of the Cloud Field Day. Time has certainly flown not least with my sabbatical from the industry – together with a stint in VendorLand with VMware – precluded my attendance on this frankly rather wonderful event. The Field Day’s are organised by the Industry Legend in his Lunchtime, Stephen Foskett with the unstinting hardwork of a retinue of support staff. As delegate I can tell you they certainly dot the i and cross the t’s. I even have a letter of invite from TechField Day for US Immigration in case just case they get gnarly. Although I must admit my first trip to the US in two years was peachy smooth when I was there for the Ravello Bloggers Day.

Continue reading

Category: TechFieldDays | Comments Off on California here I Come – Cloud Field Day
March 28

Getting started with Edward Haletky’s (@texiwill) LinuxVSM

Note: I’m not overly happy with the way the graphics are behaving in terms of resolution. If you’re finding this hard to read – in think in future I will have to crank up the font size in PuTTy – and I’m looking for a modern WordPress theme as this is looking a little too much 2011 for my tastes.

My fellow vExpert Edward Haletky has github crammed full of useful stuff – and last week I spent most of my time getting to grips with his LinuxVSM. As ever I found this really interesting and is a bit of distraction from my main personal project. But like to follow where ever my passions and interest take me. As for myself I’m chatting with Alastair Cooke of about how Edward’s work could be incorporated into his AutoLab Project. Additionally, I”m looking at updating the UDA for the next release of vSphere – adding LinuxVSM to it, as well the deployment of nested homelab – that way the UDA can be used to deploy not just physical, but virtual ESX hosts.

Edward’s LinuxVSM is essentially a Linux version of VMware’s Software Manager. This is a sadly neglected Windows tool which hasn’t had any love from VMware since 2016. I tried downloading VMware’s Windows version and using it, but it didn’t work. In case you don’t know the “software manager” is meant to the ease the pain of downloading software from You can see the LinuxVSM as text-based, and scriptable version of VMware Software Manger allowing access to the main VMware’s VSM Metadata site.

So, using an ordinary personal MyVMware account LinuxVSM can:

  • Download practically almost any piece of software you need from
  • You can “mark” a certain product suite as a “favourite” – and using cron LinuxVSM will update your repository with new version of software as they are released.
  • Your repository could be just a local .VMDK or else you could mount from the LinuxVSM to a CIFS or NFS share/export – and store your download on your NAS device.
  • Your account can be a personal  MyVMware account, and you do not need to be a customer account (although there are some bits that are not downloadable except for customers). For many of us this is a godsend. I’ve lost track of the number of “mailinator” accounts I’ve set up in effort to get hold of software from VMware – something I’ve experienced since 2003. Don’t forget you can use the VMUG Advantage to gain access to 1year NFRs if you are not in the vExpert club. VMUG Advantage is great – although sometimes its “downloads” lag behind what is available from the live site. So perhaps the real advantage of the VMUG Advantage are the licensing keys rather than the access to the media.

Continue reading

Category: vSphere | Comments Off on Getting started with Edward Haletky’s (@texiwill) LinuxVSM
March 20

Problems with Windows 10 (1703) and VMware Guest Customisation

This week I decided to try and help out a fellow vExpert who was having an issue with carrying out guest customisation on a Windows10 system. I’ve not done much with Windows10. And I’m keen to expose myself new problems and issues, and I like trying to fix issues. So I offered to help. We went ALL around the houses looking at the usual suspects – DHCP, Administrator credentials, DNS and so on. Turned out it was a problem with with Windows itself. In nutshell 1703 is “bad” for VMware Admins, but 1709 is fine.

I’d not seen the problem because my lab uses 1709…. and once my fellow vExpert had ditched the 1703 build of Windows10 the problem went away. To be honest the build difference was the LAST thing I checked. I went round all the houses – looking at the usual suspects…

The problem was this – put simply – when ever guest customisation was taking place the customisation was stalling and triggering the setting of Regional Settings/Keyboard and such like. It’s worth saying that Sysprep is always been crock of poop. It’s primarily designed for OEMs who ship PCs with Windows pre-installed, and need to “depersonalise” the build ready for shipping to customer. It was never intended really for customer deploying Windows NT/XP/7/8/10 en-masse least of all Windows Server.

It is however all we have – and so we have to work within its constraints – once reason to make sure if your VDI broker (aka Horizon or XenDesktop) has their own “Sysprep” – they are MUCH more functional and 1,000 times faster to process.

Category: View/EUC | Comments Off on Problems with Windows 10 (1703) and VMware Guest Customisation
March 16

Oracle Ravello Blogger Day 2018 (aka #RBD2)

Note: In classical antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to provide wise and insightful counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods.

Firstly, I would like to give John Troyer and Amy White a great big thank you for the invite to attend RBD2 at Oracle’s global HQ at Redwood Shores, CA. I’ve driven past Oracle’s offices on the 101 to/from SFO on a number of occasions and wondered what it was like up close. I want to especially thank Amy for her “herding of cats” by pulling a cabal of the industry’s top bloggers around the globe into one day. Initially, I was surprised to be included in those ranks. As you know I’ve been out-of-the-loop for a while. And it’s my hope this event marks an end to my hiatus and a return to my usual output and engagement. As you might guess it’s been quite journey. The best part is, its only just begun.

Secondly, I would like to thank the OCI – Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Team (Map OCI to AWS or GCP as equivalent acronyms) and Ravello Team (although I feel the distinction between the two will, as time goes by, become increasingly blurry). Bringing a larger group like this is not a small undertaking – and I see it as a measure of their commitment to the community that they are staging events like this – as well as giving all vExperts complementary access to their cloud – an offer I will be taking up shortly as a supplement to my homelab. My only regret was brain-fading in the late afternoon as we went thru two customer-case studies – by then I was rather battling the jet lag.

Right. Thank you’s done. Now to the meat and potatoes. I made copious notes during the event, and we were given access to a raft of PPTs as well as a roadmap which was under NDA. Only the roadmap is off limits. As it is I had a feeling that the Oracle folks were watching their words closely – which suggests there something brewing which is off-road map… I’ll dip in those later when I see something worthy of note – as often it’s the overall impression that stays clearer in the mind. Who knows maybe Oracle will buy VMware, but only once VMware has bought Microsoft after its merger with Redhat… :p

Anyway, I’m just gonna riff here and see where it takes me. And then when I’m done I will look at those PPT’s see if that inspires me more than just to copy and pasting slides into a blogpost for some visual relief…

Ravello isn’t just about running vSphere in a nested configuration on top of a cloud. So I’ve been out of the loop for a while, and wasn’t at RBD1. Before I took my gap year, Ravello had just been acquired. And the general consensus was – that just like a HP acquisition “That’s the end of them then”. Some acquisitions have habit of disappearing into the corporate matrix and never being seeing again. Yet, later when folks ask “why did we buy these people” – everyone who made decision have gone, and those left – just look blankly.

Continue reading

Category: Oracle Revello | Comments Off on Oracle Ravello Blogger Day 2018 (aka #RBD2)