I’m headed to both Australia VMUGs

Image: Wikipedia
Image: Wikipedia

I commonly run into VMware community members from Australia during VMworld and TechField Day events. It’s a long flight, and I enjoy running into all of the community members with a different perspective at infrastructure. I’m grateful for the diversity. I get to experience first hand the marathon that’s traveling 17 hours into the future. Both the Melbourne and Sydney VMware User Groups (VMUG) will host me for their annual user conferences the week of February 22nd.


While the same country, each conference will have its own look and feel. I’ll deliver the afternoon keynote at 4:00 PM (11:00 PM Chicago). I’ll discuss when to select a hyper-converged platform. I’m hoping to give the topic some depth. Hyper-converged, referred to as a web architecture technology, is marketed to solve almost any business requirement. I’ll peel back the layers and provide some insight into when hyper-converged fits and traditional when to look elsewhere. For those unfamiliar with hyper-converged, I wrote an introductory to the concept.

I’m especially looking forward to teaming up with VMware’s Scott Lowe to deliver a community session. Scott was kind enough to propose the topic of addressing the top 5 technologies engineers need to know. I’ll provide an overview of why the five technologies are critical to the business and, therefore, your career.


I get the morning keynote slot at 9:15 AM (4:15PM Chicago) for the Melbourne VMUG. I’ll be delivering a talk on careers. I’m making my pitch for adding business skill to your skills inventory. As cloud and outsourcing continue to commoditize the infrastructure skill set, it’s critical for engineers to look beyond technology. It’s a topic I’m very passionate. I delivered a similar session at the Cincinnati 2015 VMUG. For those of you that can’t make it, I posted a shortened version on youtube. I highly recommend you attend the session. The 1/2 hour of additional content is worth the trip to the conference center.

Scott will also deliver his NSX presentation. VMware announced NSX has a 600M USD run rate. While network segmentation drives the adoption of NSX, I’m looking forward to Scott sharing additional use cases.

The international man of mystery, Chris Wahl will also deliver sessions at each VMUG. The vBrownBag crew will be at both conferences. I plan on sitting in on many of the sessions to learn from the community. Please make sure to stop me in the hall and chat about any of my sessions or technology in general.

Follow the below hashtags and registration links for each conference.

#SydneyVMUG – Sydney registration link

#MelbourneVMUG – Melbourne registration link

Error Uploading to vCloud Air using OVFTool

I spent a few hours trying to upload the Windows Server 2016 ISO to vCloud Air. The web browser plugin to enable uploading files to vCloud air doesn’t currently work.

Failed Upload

The directions say to reference KB2110191. There are a few things wrong with the KB. First is the screenshots are incomplete. They are cut off on the corners. The 2nd is that the arguments don’t match what’s in the screen shots. And finally, OVFTool doesn’t support special characters. So, if you try to embed your password in the command-line as directed you receive the follower error.

Error: Missing media, vappTemplate, or vapp key in locator

The solution is to exclude your username and password and allow the tool to prompt you for both after executing the command.

./ovftool -st=”ISO” –vCloudTemplate=”false” “W2k16.ISO” “vcloud://us-california-1-3.vchs.vmware.com?vdc=Azure&org=7389d726-3efe-2345-837a-12345a3d30f0f&media=w2k16-2.iso&catalog=Media”

I hope this saves you a ton of effort.

Cirba – Virtualization Field Day 6 Preview

Next up in my previews to Virtualization Field Day 6 (VFD6) is Cirba. There’s already a good amount of introduction content out from other VFD6 delegates for Cirba. Cirba is a veteran of Tech Field Day. They made an appearance at TFDx during VMworld 2015. Cirba is a proper virtualization optimization solution. They are in the class of a VMTurbo. We’ll get into the technology shortly.

Company Details

Cirba, based in Ontario Canada, is relatively small but isn’t a start-up. According to Crunchbase, the company was started in 1999. I’m sure they have more than the three listed on the Crunchbase page. The company’s LinkedIn page has it in the 50-200 employee range. Gerry Smith leads Cirba.


I’m sure their product portfolio include much more than virtualization based analytics tools. The company predates the virtualization craze. Cirba considers itself an analytics company. During his TFDx presentation, Andrew Hillier compared optimizing data center resources to a game of Tetris. I believe it’s a great comparison and a great indication of what Cirba is trying to achieve. How do you place workloads in the right infrastructure containers? While the focus of this event is virtualization Cirba is aiming to help data center utilize resources as efficiently as possible.

I’m sure their collateral material has greater detail on how they help with Networking and storage. I would have downloaded a white paper, but I’ve been getting spammed non-stop by a Cirba sales person for a few weeks. I have no desire to volunteer my information as part the registration wall on their website.

Related posts 

#VFD6 Preview – Timmy Car

Virtualisation Field Day Preview: Cirba – Julian Wood

Virtualisaton Field Day 6 – Quick Preview Cirba – Craig Kilborn

ZeroStack – Virtualization Field Day 6 Preview

ZeroStackLogo-250x85Next up in our preview to Virtualization Field Day 6 (VFD6) is ZeroStack. VFD6 is my first introduction to ZeroStack. ZeroStack has a bunch of buzz words going on in their solution. ZeroStack provides a hyper-converged infrastructure to build a private cloud consumed via OpenStack API’s and managed via a SaaS portal. There’s a lot to unpack in that offering. First let’s take a look at the company itself.

Company Overview

ZeroStack, headquartered in Silicon Valley, is a startup led by VMware Alum and Co-Founder Ajay Gulati. Bromium veteran and Co-Founder, Kiran Bondalapati is CTO. The primary investors include formation 8 and Foundation Capitol.

VFD Product Preview

I have to say this is going to be an interesting presentation. The product seems to be a mix between OpenStack managed SaaS provider Platform9, the defunct OpenStack appliance provider Nebula and Nutanix.

The solution looks like a scale-out appliance that provides private cloud infrastructure. ZeroStack provides an OpenStack API but doesn’t say that OpenStack is the backend platform. It’ll be interesting to understand the reasoning behind offering OpenStack APIs vs. just building the appliance based on OpenStack. There’s much debate on if a solution live VMware should provide an OpenStack APIs vs. adding a VMware specific distribution to the market.

I’m also curious with all of the options available on the market for APIs why did ZeroStack choose OpenStack. In theory, they could have skinned their solution with an AWS or Azure compatible API. I don’t know how many customers are specifically asking for the OpenStack API for consuming infrastructure vs. the ability to customize their infrastructure with OpenStack. Personally, I think there’s some value in creating a foundation for a hybrid cloud based on one of the two most popular public cloud APIs.

My other curiosity is why an appliance? Nebula was a bit too early with the appliance model for OpenStack. The market wasn’t ready, and the financial burden of hardware validation is significant vs. a software only solution.

Another aspect I’m interested in is the SaaS-based management platform. Again, my assumption is that the appliance doesn’t run OpenStack code but rather some ZeroStack secret sauce. One of the complexities of running OpenStack is the management layers. Platform9 solves the problem by running OpenStack’s management layer within their infrastructure. I’m guessing that ZeroStack mixes the components between the Cloud and appliance.


I like companies that take chances on innovation – even with all of the buzz words. I have a ton of initial questions. I get that my workloads are local to my data center but what happens if my relationship with ZeroStack ends? What levels of customizations are available? One of the advantages of OpenStack is that it’s open source. With ZeroStack, I get the OpenStack API but lose the flexibility of open source. Is the OpenStack API that critical?

I’m looking forward to the presentation and seeing a different take on private cloud offerings.

Spirent – VFD 6 Preview

1024px-Spirent_Communications.svgNext up on my Virtualization Field Day 6 previews is Spirent. I’m familiar with Spirent from their load generating solutions. I wrote up my experience trying to troubleshoot an distributed IP multicast webcast system. One of the outstanding questions we needed to answer was if bandwidth contention was a factor in the performance of the system. Our Spirent appliance let up saturate strategic points of the network to determine if our QoS policies were effective. Prior to this use case, I’ve seen Spirent load generators used to test new circuits and general troubleshooting.

Company Overview

Founded in 1936, Spirent is a UK based company led by Eric G. Hutchinson. As of this writing they have a market cap of ~$647M USD. Spirent has a strong US presence with offices in on both coasts.


Spirent has made a big push into mobile and DevOps tools. Spirent has acquired mobile tech company Mobilethink and the technology business unit of Radvision. I haven’t personally ran into any of non-networking tools offered by Spirent. Honestly, I didn’t realize they had products beyond their traditional network performance management. I’m looking forward to seeing what Spirent presents and Virtualization Field Day 6. They’ve traditional been a strong vendor in network performance tools.


FalconStor – Virtualization Field Day 6 Preview

I’m going to Virtualization Field Day 6. And, I’ll continue my new tradition of previewing each presenting company before the event. Today, we’ll take a look at FalconStor.

Basic Company Info

FalconStor is a publically traded company (FALC) with a market cap of about $83M at the time of this writing. The company, founded in 1989 is headed by CA veteran Gary Quinn, 54.

The product

It’s interesting that FalconStor will be presenting at Virtualization Field Day vs. Storage Field Day. FalconStor has traditionally been considered a software-defined storage (SDS) provider. Even before SDS was a cool marketing term, FalconStor has separated the storage services from the hardware platform. The abstraction or virtualization of storage is actually their secret sauce from the beginning.

My first true enterprise SAN was on a FalconStor IPStor. I leveraged their IPStor and Continuous Data Protection (CDP) solution to build my first VMware ESX environment. I ran ESX 3.5 on top of a half-dozen HP DL5xx series servers. The underlying storage was an IPStor based white box array. Virtual machines were replicated via CDP over a 100Mbps VPN to my DR data center that hosted a 2nd IPStor array. I was way too naïve to realize that I was cutting edge in adopting a white box storage array. Now that I’m older, when I implement a new program, I like to do my research into what it’s actually going to do. For example, with the VPN, now I will search for the best VPN in Canada, rather than using the first option I find. Looking for the best services ensures that I receive good quality cyber security and minimizes any chances of being hacked.

As far as I can tell FalconStor’s story hasn’t changed much over the years. They’ve added backup and migration software to their portfolio, but their value proposition remains the same. I believe my company was in the minority for those using FalconStor and a primary SAN at the time. I initially built the environment in 2008. I can’t imagine there was much enterprise grade white box storage going on at the time.

One of the primary use cases for FalconStor’s products is the ability to replicate data across disparate storage arrays. By creating a virtual store array using their NSS product, the storage services are abstracted from your primary array. Combine their CDP solution and now you can replicate to another NSS based array offsite. So, you could replicate a VMAX to an HDS for example.

My take

I haven’t looked at the solution in several years because… storage. However, FalconStor has the credibility to be taken very seriously in the storage virtualization market. I’m interested to see what their value proposition is over other virtualized storage solutions such as EMC ScaleIO, which is now free without support.

I’m also interested in the business side. FalconStor isn’t a young company. At face, their solutions haven’t drastically changed over the past few years. I’m looking forward to hearing how well they are doing in the market place dominated by $1B+ startups.

Video: Nested VM Mania – VMware Workstation

Virtualigeek is all speeds and feeds now. So, break out the old school nested virtualization video. Running Windows 10, Windows 8.1 inside of Windows 8.1 VirtualBox host which is running in VMware Workstation 11 on a Windows 7 host. Can you dig it?

CTO Advisor Chat Episode 1 – SD-WAN The killer SDN app

I struggled to find the killer application for Software-Defined Networking. The PacketPushers who are the geekiest of networking geeks don’t feel Cisco ACI or VMware NSX are mature enough for the average enterprise. I am however intrigued by SD WAN. One of the use cases I’ve mentioned for SD-WAN is saving on circuit costs while improving network service levels. Another use case is segmentation which is what I talk about in this episode.


The end of VirtualizedGeek – a new beginning

I’ve decided that it’s time to say “see you later” to virtualizedgeek.com. I’ll get right to it. I’m no longer a virtualization geek, and the brand no longer fits my career trajectory. I haven’t touched a production system since November of 2010. The last VMware vSphere deployment I worked, I debated the merits of installing vSphere 4.1 vs. vSphere 5.0. My knowledge of the topic while not completely stale due to my home lab hasn’t kept up with the moniker.

Over the past 4+ years, I’ve spent most of that time in a CTO type role. I spent two years with Lockheed Martin where I set the direction for the infrastructure of a large U.S. Federal Agency. I went on to PwC where I spent another two years in an advisory role to Fortune 500 IT executives. I’m now an Infrastructure Architect with AbbVie, which is a pharmaceutical in the far north suburbs of Chicago.

While, my title is Architect, I spend very little time on the technology part of the job. I spend more time managing people, setting the technology strategy and interfacing with business line executives. I’m a pseudo-CTO.

With change comes more change

VirtualizedGeek’s original mission was to cater to the virtualization enthusiast. Some of my early posts were about the what knobs to turn to make the infrastructure run well. At this point in my career, I don’t even know if they still use knobs. I’m the guy that makes promises to the business, go back to the engineer to find that it’s not technically feasible and then go back to the business to find a new way. Or, I bring all parties together and find a way forward.

To continue to add value to the community, I feel I need to be true to my identity. My content has shifted to higher-level topics but, frankly speaking, I don’t believe it has resonated. One of my long-term readers suggested that I do tech reviews similar to Chris Wahl. I could have followed the suggestion and saw a nice uptick in readership. One of my most popular posts is still my review of XenDesktop.

However, my desire isn’t go garner more page views for the sake of having more page views. Page views are a way of measuring the success of a strategy but not the goal. My desire is to participate in the discussion of my profession and hopefully add and receive value from that discussion. In the end, it benefits the community, my employer and me. My profession is no longer focused on virtualization technology.

What’s next?

Well, I’m working on the new blog site which will be thectoadvisor.com. You can follow me on Twitter @CTOadvisor. Once I decide on the specifics of the site, I’ll update my Twitter profile. Obviously, by my Twitter handle the focus will be on CTO type content. I choose CTO vs. CIO for a specific reason. CIO’s aren’t necessarily technical, and my content will still be technical in nature. I plan on tying the content back to the business drivers. I know this audience isn’t always interested in the business side of the conversation. If you are then, you’ll like the new site.

I can’t promise that I won’t post anything ever again to VirtualizedGeek. I still have the itch to run 32 VM’s on a laptop, and there still needs to be a cool place to share that stuff. The frequency just won’t be very often.

Until next time…. vg-logo-v2-resized.jpg

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