Building a VMware Environment at Home

I’ve got to a point with my home setup where any changes have me scratching my head as to how things are setup. For that reason, and to write a blog post, I decided I would document my logical network and physical setup.

My lab initially contained a couple HP desktop servers to allow a virtual NAS, firewall, and Plex server.

To date I’ve implemented the following:


-Wired the house with Cat 6 and RG6 coaxial cable
-48 Port RJ45 Patch Panel
-Panduit Mini rack
-(10) Dahua POE Cameras
-Dahua DVR 2U Appliance with 12TB
-Install of CyberPower UPS
-QNAP TS251 2-Drive NAS w/8TB
-(35) Z-wave devices
-(1) Supermicro e200-8D Intel 6-core w/64GB Mem, 2TB SSD Flash



  • Sophos UTM Firewall VM
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Red Hat Linux
  • CentOS
  • VMware vSphere 6.5
  • VMware vRealize Automation
  • VMware vRealize Business for Cloud


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Google Chrome 43 and VMware Web Client Issues

VMware is very behind on updating their web plugins. If you are using Google Chrome latest version 43 (with defaults) then you likely are having issues connecting to VMware vCenter VM consoles using VMRC, the VMware Client Integration Plugin, and the Plugin for VMware vRA (vCAC) for integrated windows auth.

By changing these 2 extensions detailed below both the consoles access (vCenter) and integrated auth (vRA/vCAC) now work using Google Chrome 43.
This fix works for Chrome using Mac or PC.


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The Power of VMware vRealize Orchestrator (vRO)

We recently had the opportunity to evaluate a number of “IaaS” centric orchestrator products. Our finding was that many of the big name orchestrator products really all have the same functionality in terms of integration, extensibility, and plugin capabilities. You could almost argue that orchestration is now a commodity component of any private cloud. So what sets these orchestrators apart? Simplicity, OEM support, and community support.

– How easily can an administrator/engineer pick up the product and figure it out on their own?

OEM Support
– How many of the large OEMs are creating plugins (and related documentation) to integration with the orchestrator?

– How widely deployed is the product? Is the community active in documenting guides, tutorials, or troubleshooting?

These are the areas where vRO is shining right now. We have seen that the majority of IT shops run VMware for their hypervisor and through vSphere licensing they already own vRO. This makes vRO a product they usually already own and provides immediate “out-of-the-box” functionality with tight integration into vCenter for automating routine VM admin tasks like removing snapshots, migrating workloads, performing VM tools/hardware upgrades, and other VM tasks. Once these admins address basic VM management tasks, they quickly turn to the next step of automating windows/linux server builds. The first thing that happens is a Google search, “How to…..with VMware Orchestrator” and boom there are tens if not hundreds of articles on how to configure and use this tool. The number of IT experts that have picked up this tool and documented their adventures is like nothing before. The support of the community makes this tool quite viable without hiring temporary experts to do all the work. Then there is the OEM support, no matter which solution you are using for servers, network, CMDB, IPAM, monitoring, load balancing or firewalls; there is overwhelming numbers of plugin and supporting documentation for deployment/troubleshooting/extensibility. For these reasons we believe that the VMware Orchestrator product is the most widely deployed, simplest to use, and provides the greatest level of integration and extensibility. This is a powerful orchestrator!


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Red Hat CloudForms gaining momentum in the IaaS and OpenStack arena

CloudForms is quickly gaining popularity as a best-of-breed Cloud Management Platform (CMP) solution to compliment an existing Red Hat shop on its approach to provide IaaS/XaaS. CloudForms has free and paid support levels and provides a native Red Hat experience for integrating with OpenStack and OpenShift. CloudForms was also recently Open sourced which will surely increase user base and extensibility.

Here is the high level architecture of CloudForms:



For OpenStack deployments, CloudForms can now manage cloud-based computational resources, from initial provisioning to retirement. Users can set up their own OpenStack instances, with CloudForms handling the approval process, if one is in place. It can provide charge-back reports so the appropriate business unit can be billed for usage.

For administrators, CloudForms provides a dashboard and reports on OpenStack usage across the organization. It will also provide tools for configuring OpenStack instances.

In addition to supporting OpenStack, CloudForms offers additional controls for AWS as well. It now allows administrators to apply usage policies to Amazon Machine Instances (AMIs) that are self-provisioned by users. It works with Amazon’s Identity and Access Management (IAM) to manage users and workloads.



Want to read more on how CloudForms integrates with OpenStack? Check out this great document:



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VCE vBlock chooses Cisco ACI for SDN

This is not a news flash, in fact this has been public for almost a year now but I felt it warranted a blog entry due to the impact on your next data center converged infrastructure purchase.

What is the update? VCE (Nearly 50% Cisco owned) has snubbed VMware’s Virtual Networking solution NSX in favor of Cisco’s Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) aka Cisco SDN.

Why does this matter? If you are on the path to building a fully virtualized cloud and software defined data center (SDDC) your choice for network virtualization will have a big impact on your design, strategy and cost. We are not saying that you can’t run NSX on the vBlock, we are saying that VCE does not support it and hence no one will take that route sans support.

What’s the end game? The Cisco and VMware battle lines are becoming more entrenched and at many layers. The vBlock has become a favorite converged infrastructure solution for VMware + Cisco shops, a Lot of Shops! This heavily influenced VMware to create their own converged solution, EVO Rail, which surely will ship with NSX in the future. Very soon IT leaders will need to make a strategic choice between Cisco and VMware that will have a profound impact on network design, physical infrastructure, cloud strategy, and automation/orchestration configuration.

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The Internet of Things (IoT) is on its way to your house

According to Gartner, there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020. [wikipedia]. Where will all these devices be? Coffee Shops? In your car? At the grocery store? The answer is yes, yes, and yes. But the majority will be in your future Smart Home, and there are 4 major retailers banking on it. They are banking on many opportunities including the hardware, the software, and the (cloud based) subscriptions services. Who and what are they doing? Here is a brief synopsis of the current landscape as of 9/8/14:

Lowes – The “Iris Smart Home Management System” is the result of Lowes purchase of UK-based AlertMe. Lowes is first to the home improvement market with its own Smart Home system.


Home Depot – Finally (July 2014) HD comes to market with “Wink” to compete with Iris. HD has close to 60 products available right now that work with the Wink platform.


Google – The purchase of Nest, the resulting API, and the new communication standard called “Thread” have cemented Google as a major player vying to be the foundation of your future IoT laden household.

Apple – The HomeKit was recently introduced by Apple with iOS 8 which immediately set the stage that the Google vs Apple battle is coming to your house. Another signal was sent to the developer community for IoT and Home Automation tools that the industry is about the heat up very fast.

As a consumer its important to know that Home Automation is now a serious market with serious competition. Gone are the days of simple home appliance purchases, in the future your purchases (thermostat, door locks, electric outlets, baby monitor, home cameras, alarm systems) must be part of a well thought out home automation strategy chock full of different technical capabilities, integration with current investments, and varying sticker prices.






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VMware enters the hot hyper-converged market

A new market has slowly taken shape on the heels of the success of converged infrastructure. When IT teams are looking at the vBlock or FlexPod they now must consider if an even smaller infrastructure footprint would be more appropriate for the specific use case. This is where Nutanix, Simplevity, & HC3 have previously ruled the roost. Now that VMware has entered the market armed with vSAN there is a serious 800 lb gorilla in the room.

Check out this good write up on the offering:


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