Happy New Year 2022

The last two years were special, but I’m not going in too deep. It gave us all some new challenges, like Zoom/WebEx/Teams meeting marathons, no face-to-face contact with customers, and some challenging home office experiences. For me personally, some things changed. My better 51% (aka my girlfriend) and I are building a house! It should be finished by the beginning of 2022. And I already declared to be the CIO of this house 🙂 We will move all of our stuff, rearrange everything, and then there’s always the address change notification that you have to do with the postal service, all your online shops, car insurance, personal insurance, etc. Sending out letters soon because still not all can be done online. I did also some learning this year, like AWS courses and some VCP preparations. Certification exams are still pending… Dang it.

I hope that your wishes come true and that you find the courage to take new steps. For 2022, I wish you and your loved ones all the best. And I hope to see you soon!

Happy New Year!

My Top 10 Posts in 2021

Another year is over, it’s 2021 and the beginning of another year. With this blog article, I’d like to present to you my Top 10 posts of 2021. Surprisingly, the Top 10 blog posts are not all from 2020. Obviously, people are still searching for solutions for problems they have with some “old” stuff like Windows Server 2012 R2, or they are looking for solutions to problems they have in their current infrastructure. I hope that my blog posts will help the people out there in the tech community solve their problems. I’ll do my best to keep on doing my work and sharing my knowledge.

10. SHARP printers – Remote administration with VNC viewer

Back in 2016 when I was working as an IT administrator in customer support, I found out that you can control a printer with the VNC viewer. I was astonished!

https://d1h20x5a6pp9nk.cloudfront.net/2016/09/06/remote-administration-sharp-printers-vnc-viewer/

9. VMware vSAN cache disk failed and how to recover from it

When you break things in your homelab, then it’s most likely your fault. I will never, and I repeat, I will never blame any vendor if my lab blows up because of my fault.

https://d1h20x5a6pp9nk.cloudfront.net/2018/08/18/vmware-vsan-cache-disk-failed-and-how-to-recover-from-it/

8. Veeam – Backup Copy “Block is not initialized. Failed to download disk.”

When I was working at a Veeam Platinum Partner in Switzerland, I had many customers running Veeam Backup & Replication. This is another troubleshooting blog post. I had to use some tools the first time and I was able to fix some backup copy issues.

https://d1h20x5a6pp9nk.cloudfront.net/index.php/2017/06/05/veeam-backup-copy-block-not-initialized-failed-download-disk/

7. Expand your logical drive to extend a VMFS datastore

It was like open-heart surgery. There was no possibility of a backup, no safety rope. But I had to do this task because a quick solution was needed.

https://d1h20x5a6pp9nk.cloudfront.net/2019/07/24/expand-your-logical-drive-to-extend-a-vmfs-datastore/

6. VMware – Clone a VM with snapshots (and consolidate it)

Who doesn’t know snapshots and their sometimes weird behavior? This was a pretty strange candidate!

https://d1h20x5a6pp9nk.cloudfront.net/2018/09/03/vmware-clone-a-vm-with-snapshots-and-consolidate-it/

5. “Starting drivers, please wait” – An HPE adventure story

This was one strange issue! Back in the day when I was working at a solution provider, a customer reported an issue. His ESXi hosts have lost connectivity to a storage system. It took some time to solve, and it was a good experience.

https://d1h20x5a6pp9nk.cloudfront.net/2017/07/18/starting-drivers-please-wait-an-hpe-adventure-story/

4. Setting up Visual Studio Code for WSL 2

I’ve started learning some automation stuff, like doing things with Ansible. And I had to set up a suitable solution for me to write things, play around and test stuff.

https://d1h20x5a6pp9nk.cloudfront.net/2021/01/27/setting-up-visual-studio-code-for-wsl-2/

3. An easy way to quickly migrate a VMware VM to Synology VMM

In the third place of 2021, there is this post about migrating a VMware VM to Synology Virtual Machine Manager.

https://d1h20x5a6pp9nk.cloudfront.net/2020/09/01/an-easy-way-to-quickly-migrate-a-vmware-vm-to-synology-vmm/

2. Backup and Restore vCenter Server Appliance

In the second place of 2021, there is this post about how to backup and restore your vCenter Server Appliance.

https://d1h20x5a6pp9nk.cloudfront.net/2020/04/21/backup-and-restore-vcenter-server-appliance/

1. Microsoft Active Directory – Desktop Shortcuts with Group Policy

And the first place winner for my Top 10 blog posts in 2021 is an old one back from 2016. But obviously, people still search for solutions like this. With Active Directory Group Policies you can do so many things. One of them is also creating desktop shortcuts.

https://d1h20x5a6pp9nk.cloudfront.net/index.php/2016/11/12/microsoft-active-directory-desktop-shortcuts-with-group-policy/

vExpert Applications are open – Why should you apply?

The vExpert applications for 2022 are open now. Nice! But what is this?

Many vendors have special programs for the IT folks around the world. These programs are designed for ambassadors and evangelists. You may get early access to beta versions, marketing information, they help you promote your blog posts and many other great benefits. The VMware vExpert program is VMware’s global evangelism and advocacy program.

There is no certification exam for becoming a vExpert, no course requirement. It is kind of an award or an accreditation. You have to apply for the vExpert program, and a committee will review your application.

Do I have what it takes?

Yes! The vExpert program is about “giving back”. You work in your job, you do great things, and help your users and customers. You’ve got experience in IT technology and working for some years already in that area. You may work at VMware, at a partner, or you may be a VMware customer. Giving back means sharing your knowledge. Did you fix a problem? Blog about it! Did you set up a new solution for a customer? You may speak about it at VMworld! If you’re not a writer, then there are various groups on social media, or you can find forums like the VMTN (and many other non VMware related forums). There are a lot of users, both partners, and customers, asking for help. Help them with your experience and knowledge! You may have written a book about VMware solutions, or you’re focusing on a specific VMware product. Maybe you are a public speaker or a VMUG leader. You have the knowledge, you have experience, share it!

How can I apply?

It is very easy to apply. There are two applications per year. One is starting during the summertime, and one is starting in early December. Both application windows are open for 30 days. After this period, the committee will close the applications and start their voting. This may take up to 45 days. The results for the December applications will be announced in February, the summer application will be announced somewhen in August.

If you’re already a vExpert or even a VCDX, and for sure new applicants have to apply once per year. There are also vExpert sub-programs, like Application Modernization, HCX, Cloud Management, and many others, that you can apply for if you’ve been awarded a vExpert.

The December vExpert applications are open now, and the results will be announced in February 2022. And it might be one of the most eagerly awaited emails, at least if you read about it on some blogs, or see it popping up on Twitter.

Click here to apply for vExpert 2022!

Can I get help?

Yes! VMware announced the vExpert PRO program. There are more than 100 vExpert PROs around the world that are helping you. They can help you with mentoring, tell you what you have to do, and outline the process of the applications. Just reach out to the vExpert PRO close to your area!

What benefits can I get from the vExpert program?

If you check the list on the vExpert website, you can see that there are a lot of benefits. I’m not listing every point here, but I’d like to mention at least some of them.

You will be part of a global network of more than 2000 other vExperts. They are on social media, Twitter, active on blogs and forums. There is also a Slack channel for vExperts. You’ll get a certificate signed by the VMware CEO. One of my personal favorites is the access to 365 day eval licenses for most of the VMware products, like vSphere, vSAN, etc. Throughout the year, you got the opportunity to join private webinars with VMware partners. You will be featured on the vExpert Directory. Also before VMworld, there are pre-launch briefings for bloggers, which means that you may get a sneak peek at some products or announcements. Also, as soon as VMworld will be an in-person event again, there will be vExpert parties both at VMworld US and Europe. And I tell you, they are awesome!

My personal view

I’m working for about 20 years in IT now, including my apprenticeship. I learned many things, and I’m still learning. I had the chance to gain insights into different industries during my work. When I was awarded a vExpert for the first time, I felt honored. It meant a lot to me to be one of only a few hundred to receive such an award. It showed also that my efforts are worth it, and that they have been noticed. I was working on a partner level for many years, helped my customers to build their infrastructure, helped them with troubleshooting. Now, I’m working at a customer, fighting with daily business problems, architecting data centers, migrating workloads, and designing cloud concepts.

Some people kept smiling at my vExpert status because they didn’t believe in certifications, accreditations, etc. But that didn’t bother me. I did my thing. I wrote blog posts, and I still write (even if not as often or regularly as I want). I’m active in forums and help people with troubleshooting. And I’ve always stood up for one thing. I’m grateful for becoming a vExpert, it meant a lot to me, and it still does.

Personally, I have the feeling that, especially in contact with technical support, it enables a different level of communication if the other person recognizes my status as vExpert. A problem may escalate upwards faster, and you may have faster access to 3rd level support. Things like this. But also during projects, when I’m in contact with internal customers and external consultants, they recognize my status and see that I’m not just any IT technician. I know some stuff, I’m experienced, and someone voted for me so I could become a vExpert. As mentioned, it’s not a certification exam you can learn for. It is the personal commitment that shines through here.

Changing FRU information on Supermicro servers

This blog post is not just for fun but because of a reason. I reinstalled my three Supermicro homelab servers with vSphere 7, and during setup, I noticed that ESXi shows incorrect values for the server model. What could cause this?

No, it shouldn’t be a “Super Server”, even if Supermicro servers are super for homelabs. But it should be an “SYS-300-8D” as this is the model I bought.

So how can I fix this? The short answer is: there is no fix until today, unfortunately. I tried it and asked also some fellow VMware friends, but still no success. It seems that this might a bug or something. I don’t know what values are read from ESXi to display that. And even after I changed the FRU values with the IPMICFG tool, reboot, and reinstalled the ESXi, the values were still displayed wrong. But at least I learned some new things during that troubleshooting. And I wanted to put the lessons learned into a blog post. Just in case you have similar issues, or you want to do the same things.

Read more

Update on website performance and security

Long time no hear! My last blog post has been a while ago, I’m sorry for that. I may have mentioned possible reasons for that (or maybe excuses) in some other posts already. I’m busy in the office, and when you’re working as a customer, there is not the same level of troubleshooting (and thus the source for blog posts) as when you would work as a partner (vendor => partner => customer, from an IT tech perspective). I know, that might be only an excuse. We’ve got plenty of servers, stuff in the cloud, and therefore one may say there are plenty of problems. But no, there’s not much. Honestly. But anyway, I’m still keeping the troubleshooting stuff on my radar, and if there will be some good and beefy issues, I’ll document that and blog about it. Because in IT, you’ll be probably not alone with that problem. And any blog post can help.

What’s up then?

Today’s topic is not about virtualization, networking, storage, or anything else in that sphere. It’s about an update on my website’s performance and security.

Recently we had a discussion in our team on how to improve website performance in general, how complex it could be, what solutions could be applied, and who should be on board with such a project. After the “official” part we had a chat in our core team about our personal websites, website monitoring, performance, etc. and we stumbled across some speed test websites. I mean, we’re all somehow nerds, isn’t it? No offense!

Read more