Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Notes for Installing Rockstor 3.8 on VMware Workstation 12.5

I ran into a little hiccup on a new Rockstor 3.8 NAS setup today. After some quick searching on their support forum I ran across someone who was also using VMware Workstation 12.5 having the exact issue.

There appears to be a bug with this type of test environment where no UUID is assigned to any of the disks you add to your guest. To fix this you must edit the virtual machine's VMX file and add the following line to the end of the file:


Once you do that, save the file and restart your NAS. You will now see the disks have been detected.

It is no joke either that their support forum is very responsive and helpful! Even with this minor issue, this still is the easiest and quickest NAS solution out there without spending a fortune. The update subscription service is also very reasonably priced and if I ever use this in production I will be signing up. 

My original report:


Thursday, January 5, 2017

PowerShell / PowerCLI Powered On / Off Report Using HTML & CSS

I recently was tasked with creating a report containing the current power state for all VM's in a vCenter environment. Using some recently obtained CSS knowledge and revisiting PowerShell HTML reports, I whipped this little gem up:

That's it. All you need to do is modify the PowerState to either:

  • PoweredOn
  • PoweredOff
and or point to another external CSS for formatting. I find it easier to use a URL between the single quotes. I modified the script to strip away any custom settings for my environment. 

Here's an example of the external CSS file I used (reportstyle.css) : 

With these you can create simple reports from vcenter data that look like this:

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016

2016 has brought quite a bit of excitement to my life. This year I've:

  • Sold and moved homes. Finished living in a basement for a period of 1 year. 
  • Started a Bachelor's degree program. 
  • Was told I could start working from home more (drive into office once a week).
  • Found out I was going to be a dad!
  • Broke my freaking ankle in three places! (it sucks, and as of right now I still have a cast.)
I've also not posted a lot of new content to this blog in a while But I'm hoping to have some interesting bits of info to talk about in 2017. I'm gearing up for some interesting classes, some possible job changes and maybe getting a few more certifications.

But in the meantime, I wanted to just say Merry Christmas to anyone who stumbles by to read my pointless ramblings and to say this is the last post for 2016. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Windows Server 2016 EVAL - First Thoughts & Observations

After downloading the official Windows Server 2016 Eval yesterday and spinning up a VM I was pleased to see what I had been hearing for a while that this version would indeed include support for containers:

Woo-hoo! I'll have to play with this some more soon. It should also be noted that Windows Server 2016 now uses PowerShell 5.1 which contains some important new features around JEA & DSC.

I'm excited to start learning. This version appears to have improved on the sweeping changes we saw with Server 2012 so there shouldn't be too much to relearn which is good. As I work with this new version I'll post more.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Grab Basic Network Info from Docker Container

Learning Docker has forced me to learn more about basic Linux tools. One such tool is GREP, or Global Regular Expression Print.

GREP is quite a powerful, yet simple tool for searching text. Docker has lots of text that can be searched when using Docker commands such as docker inspect. Using this command can return a lot of text on your screen. While this can be useful, why hurt your eyes looking for simple network information on a particular container? Enter GREP.

In this example, I'm looking for just the name of the container, it's IP address(es) and MAC address(es). 

 docker network inspect 4136d04999bc | grep 'Name\|IPv4Address\|MacAddress'  

As you can see, I use the command docker network inspect [containerID] and pipe that text to the GREP utility which allows me to search for the regular expression. 

You should see something similar to the following:

docker network inspect + GREP

The above is plain text but since you can do so much with regular expressions, there isn't much you can't find using this example as a starting point.

For more information on using GREP and regular expressions as well as Docker networking, visit the following sites:

Grep - An introduction to grep and egrep. How to search for strings inside of files.

Docker - Work with network commands

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Time to Learn Docker

I've been quite busy lately. Not long after my last blog post I was blessed with a great opportunity to finally enter the enterprise IT realm.

Oh the things I've begun to learn and have been asked to learn. Definitely makes scheduling time to enjoy the finer things in life (spending lots more time with the wife, friends & family, fixing up a new house etc.) at little more chaotic at times. But I digress...

I've been asked consider learning all that I can about Docker. So I bought some books, started reading some things online and watched a few videos.

Wow. Big change is coming for IT. Container technology is already upsetting the industry and has already motivated me to learn more and second guess how I currently do things.

As I have time, I'm going to write up some things I've discovered & learned in hopes it will help someone else and as a way to to help me better learn Docker by talking about it with whoever decides to read this blog.

Until next time......

Monday, April 6, 2015

Do You Treat Your Data Center Like You Treat Your Restroom?

You've read the title correctly. Possible toilet humor ahead. You have been warned!

But before you continue on, watch this video first:

Pay careful attention to how happy the customers are who use a Buc-ees gas station restroom.

How many times have you visited a business and needed to use a restroom? I’m assuming we have all had that pleasure or displeasure a few times in our lives. A recent experience I had while at a big box store caused me to pause and think about how a business may treat their restrooms the same way they treat their data centers.

Let’s look at some similarities that restrooms and data centers share:

  • Both have regular customers.
  • Both can become messy and cluttered.
  • Both are viewed as cost centers.
  • Both demand 100% uptime.
  • Both have staffing requirements.

Both Have Regular Customers

Everyone goes to the restroom. From the time you are born to the time you die. It’s a part of life. Just as we perform these private acts during our daily existence, we also visit facilities in a digital sense. We access our file servers, our databases, our web servers regularly that are hosted in our own local data center, or in someone else’s data center. We leave digital deposits, or data in these facilities.

Both Can Become Messy and Cluttered

The customer expects a clean and tidy restroom, one that they feel comfortable using time and again. The customer who does not feel comfortable enough to use the restroom is less likely to engage your business. To infuriate a customer, all it takes is an over-flowing toilet, failed flushes, foul odors, no soap and worst of all no toilet paper. The customer should also expect a clean and tidy data center, both digitally and physically. Take a walk around your data center. Your physical customer should recognize how well your cable management has been implemented, how everything has the proper label, the absence of clutter. They expect reliable entry and use of your data center be it with hosted services, your company website, etc. They also expect to feel safe and secure when using the facilities. Seeing in the toilet bowl what appears to be a NASCARr dirt track doesn’t leave you with a sense of feeling good as you pull in for a pit stop. Same could be said for a data center that is under constant bombardment from successful DDoS attacks that take down their customers websites.

Just as a well kept restroom will always be stocked, clean, properly ventilated and inviting, a business needs to ensure that their data center is also clean, accessible, has sufficient power, fire suppression, properly ventilated / cooled, and secure. Who wants to use facilities that are not?

Both Are Viewed as Cost Centers

Restrooms are rarely profit centers, although regular deposits are made. Just as a business would replenish the toilet paper and hand soap, a data center has to replenish its software licensing, equipment, support & maintenance contracts and even talent from time to time. Ignoring any of these can leave a rather unpleasant experience. Both cost money to operate but they are necessary amenities in our modern world.

Both Demand 100% Up-Time

In our modern society, we have come to expect facilities be available for us to do our business in. I would venture to say that not a single one of you reading this article isn’t within a short distance of the lieu. When nature calls, you expect uninterrupted service while sending that fax to Cleveland or for those in the UK, sending a sausage to the seaside. Nothing worse than getting a DoS error when needing to send a packet. So just as a janitor checks on the restrooms regularly for any defects and other issues, we in IT have to remain vigilant and monitor our data center for possible leaks, hardware & software failures including change management.

Both Have Staffing Requirements

No restroom or data center that I've ever seen is completely un-manned. Both usually have at least one person who is trained to maintain a certain level of accessibility and acceptability. A janitor and a NOC technician aren't all that different. Both play an important part in keeping things running. A janitor's job may seem easy, but it’s not. They have to know how to properly clean different surfaces with the right chemicals and know how to operate and repair dispensers and plumbing. A NOC technician has to understand how to monitor servers and take corrective action before a major problem occurs, create reports and participate in projects. Get the wrong type of person for either job and it can lead to disastrous results. It doesn't just stop at hiring the right person for the job, but it requires ongoing training and review. A janitor may be introduced to a new product that may save them time cleaning and make their job even safer by handling less hazardous chemicals. A NOC technician may receive training on a new OS or piece of hardware that will increase their efficiency in operating the data center. A lot of businesses treat both professions as an after thought or view them as less important than they really are.

So now that we have a few comparisons, which business do you think has happier customers? The dirty, dysfunctional, clogged toilet with no plunger restroom / data center, or the one that is well kept, always ready for deposit with an every 2-hour checkup restroom / data center?

If you take pride in your restrooms, chances are you take pride in every aspect of the company, and that pride should also extend to your data center operations. And chances are, your customers will appreciate it enough that they will talk about their experience, much like those customers of Buc-ees.