New Career Adventure — Joined Rubrik

After over 5 years of being a freelance consultant, I’m pleased to announce that I have begun a technical marketing position at Rubrik. I’ll be working with the likes of Andrew Miller and Chris Wahl.

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I took a few months to talk evaluate my options, narrow my focus, and to a few different companies to see what positions were available and how I would fit. I was really impressed by the passionate crew at Rubrik; the team was genuinely thrilled about about the work they were doing and I loved their energy.

For those of you who may not be as familiar with Rubrik, the company is aiming to solve the many challenges of data protection. As a consulting architect, I’ve spent a fair amount of time deciphering data protection or BCDR requirements and challenges posed by customers and working to develop solutions so I’m looking forward to continuing work on those type of puzzles.

For more information about Rubrik, I’d suggest taking a look at some videos from Tech Field Day. Here are two videos that introduce and demo the product:

I will be writing about Rubrik in the future along with my regularly scheduled non-technical and virtualization blog posts as well as other tech stuff I encounter in my day to day.

I’m excited about the road ahead and pushing myself in a role that is a bit outside my comfort zone. I look forward to seeing where my journey takes me over the next few years.

The Importance of Mentorship: Building the Mentoring Relationship (Part IV)

Previously discussed topics were the importance of mentoring and leadership, as well as the roles of a mentor and roles of a mentee. This post will dive into what is required to build the mentoring relationship. I’m going to take a different approach this time; instead of writing a bunch of paragraphs, I am going to summarize the phases of the mentoring relationship by using an outline. Let’s see how this goes!

At the beginning of the mentoring relationship, the mentor and mentee should discuss how the partnership should be structured. Regardless of whether the mentoring relationship takes a formal structure, there are typically a few phases that take place:

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  • Building rapport
    • In this phase the mentor and mentee are exploring whether or not they can work together.
    • Simply get acquainted with one another (number of years in the industry, technical skillset, common skills, similar career paths, etc.)
    • Determine purpose of relationship and establish expectations.
    • Active listening, being respectful, being open and honest help build reciprocal trust in this stage.
  • Setting direction
    • This phase is all about setting goals. Once there is rapport and the relationship has established its sense of purpose, then determine what should be achieved.
    • Discuss the overall mentoring goals; for example, the following questions could be asked:
      • What are your visions and career aspirations?
      • Where is your career right now?
      • What are your strengths, weaknesses?
      • What is your behavioral style?
      • What is your leadership style?
      • What are your top three goals?
      • How can the mentoring relationship help to build new technical skills, explore new ideas, forge a new career path, expand your network, etc.?
    • If this is a formal mentoring process, a “Mentoring Partnership Agreement” could be established to determine clear goals, roles, and responsibilities, as well as setting a schedule.
  • Recap and progress
    • Recap the mentoring sessions at the end of each session. Also consider reviewing the progress between sessions at the beginning of the session.
    • The progression piece is typically the longest of all the phases. This phase can be perpetual depending on the length of the mentoring relationship.
    • Work together to accomplish the established goals.

Qualities of a successful mentoring relationship:

  • Articulation – the mentor should be able to help the mentee articulate their feelings, thoughts and ideas. The mentee may still be learning this skill.
  • Listening – both the mentee and the mentor should exhibit active listening skills.
  • Respect – without respect, the relationship will not achieve a level of openness required for successful mentoring.
  • Goal clarity – both the mentee and mentor need to have a clear understanding of the mentee’s objectives. It would also be good for the mentee to know the mentor’s goals in order for the relationship to be more reciprocal.
  • Challenging – the mentee and mentor should both be challenged during this relationship.
  • Self-awareness – the mentor should be proactive and insightful in order to appropriately guide the mentee using his or her own experience. The mentee should be self-aware in order to be able learn from the mentor’s example and advice.
  • Commitment to learning – both the mentor and the mentee should be learning and growing as a part of this relationship.
  • Reflection / preparation – a common reason why mentoring relationships fail is because one party or both fails to invest time preparing for or carrying through with the time investment.

 

vBrownBag – VCAP6-DCV Design Objective 2.3

vBrownBag EMEA is in the midst of recording sessions that cover the VCAP6-DCV Design (3V0-622) exam. If you are interested in presenting one of the exam objective, see the Call for Presenters post here.

Objective 1.3 –Build Availability Requirements into a vSphere 6.x Logical Design

Skills and Abilities

  • Evaluate which logical availability services can be used with a given vSphere solution.
  • Differentiate infrastructure qualities related to availability.
  • Describe the concept of redundancy and the risks associated with single points of failure
  • Explain class of nines methodology
  • Determine availability component of service level agreements (SLAs) and service level management processes
  • Determine potential availability solutions for a logical design based on customer requirements.
  • Create an availability plan, including maintenance processes.
  • Balance availability requirements with other infrastructure qualities.
  • Analyze a vSphere design and determine possible single points of failure.

Additional Resources

  • René van den Bedem’s post on “VCDX – Recoverability impacting Availability Explained”

Without further ado, the podcast recording can be found here:

Nutanix One-Click Upgrades for ESXi Patching

This is the first guest post of what I hope to be many from the great Herb Estrella:

In my personal experience Nutanix one-click upgrades work as advertised, but there are few items that should be accounted for in preparation of installing ESXi patches on a Nutanix cluster. This post will cover a few pre-requisites to look for, touch on the subtasks of the patching procedure, and finally close out with some troubleshooting tips and links to resources that I found helpful.

If you’ve seen the Dr. Strange movie you’ll find that going through the one-click upgrade process is loosely akin to reading from the “Book of Cagliostro” in that “the warnings come after you read the spell.”

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There is a pre-upgrade process that is done prior patching that catches a few items but here a few pre-requisites that I found will set you up nicely for success:

  • vSphere HA/DRS settings need to be set according to best practices aka “recommended practices” as these account for the CVM and a few other items that make a Nutanix cluster in vSphere different.
  • DRS Rules (affinity/anti-affinity rules), if in use, can also cause problems. For example, if you have a 3 node cluster and 3 VMs part of anti-affinity rules, it is a good idea to temporarily disable the rules. Re-enable the rules when patching is complete.
  • ISOs mounted (namely due to VMware Tools installs) are major culprits for VMs not moving when scheduled to by DRS or moved manually. I recommend to unmount any ISOs that aren’t accessible from all hosts within a cluster.

Subtasks are the steps in the one-click upgrade sequence from start to finish. Below are a listing of them with some observations from each.

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  • Downloading hypervisor bundle on this CVM
    • When the patch is initially uploaded it is stored in a CVM’s following directory:  /home/nutanix/software_uploads/hypervisor/. How you access Prism determines which CVM this hypervisor bundle (aka patch) will reside on first. This should be mostly transparent but this is one of those “good to know” items. The hypervisor bundle needs to be copied from the initial source location onto the CVM for which its host is being upgraded by the one-click upgrade process if this fails “no soup for you.”
  • Waiting to upgrade the hypervisor
    • …nothing to see here…
  • Starting upgrade process on this hypervisor
    • …keep it moving…
  • Copying bundle to hypervisor
    • …business as usual…
  • Migrating user VMs on the hypervisor
    • Huzzah! This is a good one to pay attention to especially if the pre-requisites previously covered are not addressed. The upgrade will most likely timeout/fail here and it may not give you any helpful information as to why.
    • This is also a good spot to watch the Tasks/Events tab on the ESXi host being patched to get some better insight in the process.
  • Installing bundle on the hypervisor
    • If all VMs have been successfully migrated, the host should be in maintenance mode with the CVM shutdown. This step also takes the longest…so patience is key.
  • Completed hypervisor upgrade on this node
    • At this stage the host is ready to run VMs as it should now be out of maintenance mode with the CVM powered on.

In the test environment I was working with I made a lot of assumptions and just dove head first. The results as you can imagine were not good. Here are a few troubleshooting measures I used to help right my wrongs.

  • The upload process for getting the ESXi patch to the CVM is straight forward; however there are two ways to do it: download a json direct from the Nutanix support portal or enter the MD5 info from the patch’s associated KB article. I chose to upload a json and purposefully use the wrong patch and now I can’t delete the json even after completing the upgrade. If I find out how to resolve this issue I’ll update this post. This is where knowing the file location of the patch on the CVM can be helpful (/home/nutanix/software_upload/hypervisor) because the patch can be deleted or replaced.
  • Restarting Genesis! This one is a major key. For example, the one-click upgrade is stuck, a VN didn’t migrate, and even after the VM is manually migrated the one-click upgrade won’t just continue where it left off. In my experience to resolve this you’ll need to give it a little nudge in the form of a genesis restart. Run this command (genesis restart) on the CVM that failed, if that doesn’t work trying restarting genesis on the other hosts in the cluster. I was doing this in a test environment and did an allssh genesis restart and was able to get the process moving, but results may vary. If you err on the side of caution restart genesis one at a time manually.
  • Some helpful commands to find errors in logs
    • grep ERROR ~/data/logs/host_preupgrade.out
    • grep ERROR ~/data/logs/host_upgrade.out
  • For the admins that aren’t about that GUI life you can run the one-click upgrade command from a CVM
    • cluster –md5sum=<md5 from vmware portal> –bundle<full path to the bundle location on the CVM> host_upgrade
  • To check on the status host_upgrade_status

Links:

  • One click upgrades via vmwaremine
  • Troubleshooting KB article via Nutanix Support Portal, may require Portal access to view.
  • vSphere settings via Nutanix Support Portal, may require Portal access to view.

     

Bonus thoughts: Do I need vSphere Update Manager if I’m using Nutanix? This could be a post on it’s own (and it still might be) but I have some thoughts I’d like to share.

  • Resources
    • In a traditional setup you will most likely have vSphere Update Manager installed on a supported Windows VM (unless VCSA 6.5) with either SQL Express or a DB created on an existing SQL server. One-click upgrade is built into Prism.
  • Compliance
    • Prism has visibility into the ESXi hosts for versioning so if a host was “not like the others” then it would pop up on a NCC check or in the Alerts in Prism.
  • vCenter Plugin
    • This one is worth mentioning but really not a huge deal. It’s one less thing to worry about and ties back into the resources statements above.
  • My Answer
    • It depends on if I’m all in with Nutanix because if my entire infrastructure were Nutanix hosts then I would not deploy vSphere Update Manager.