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Hands-on Labs: Importing vPods

This is the fourth in my series on managing content for VMware Hands-on Labs. You can find the previous posts in the following locations:

The next phase of our multi-cloud vPod management process is sometimes a data replication, but there are times when we have multiple clouds at the same physical location. In that case, the next phase is simply an import to the target cloud. Doing this by hand is tedious and error-prone, so we employ some PowerCLI to keep us sane.

We use the built-in Import-CIVAppTemplate cmdlet for importing vApp templates. It usually does the job pretty well, but I have noticed a couple of things about the cmdlet that are worth sharing. First off, in my experience, it does not do very well with high latency links. At high latency, its bandwidth utilization is terrible when compared to even the Java-based uploader that is part of the vCD web UI. The capability to script the import process can be a worthwhile tradeoff in many cases. If the source and target clouds are geographically distributed, we usually replicate the export files to a “library” host that is LAN-connected to the target cloud and then perform the import locally anyway. I will go into more on that process in a future post in this series. Beyond that, I find that Import-CIVAppTemplate can use a little help in the resiliency department and I’ve created a little wrapper to help it out:

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Backstage Pass with VMware Hands-on Labs Session #2

Join Doug and Bill as they describe how we operate our Hands-on Labs Service

Join Doug and Bill as they describe how we operate our Hands-on Labs Service

In this Session Bill Call and Doug Baer will walk you through an overview of the Hands-on Labs infrastructure, design considerations when creating our vApps (vPods) and how we move them across multiple datacenters around the world.

This technical session is for architects, and administrators running datacenters. The content level is intermediate to advanced. Please plan to attend and be prepared to ask questions at the end of the talk.  We also encourage you to start thinking about joining us for VMworld 2014 in San Francisco or Barcelona and visiting us in the Hands-on Labs room. 30 minute talk /presentation with plenty of room for questions and answers.

PDF and MP3 Recording

Announcing VMware Hands-on Labs BackStage Pass Webinars

Webinar Series VMware Hands-on Labs Backstage Pass

Join our Webinar Series VMware Hands-on Labs Backstage Pass

Friends,

We are announcing the VMware Hands-on Labs Backstage Pass Webinars Series.  These sessions are for Administrators, Architects and IT Managers running VMware environments of any size. Our talks are easygoing , focus on technology and provide tips and tricks to help make your life easier.

The VMware Hands-on Labs Backstage Pass Webinars Series will run the first Wednesday of the month 9:00 AM PDT. All sessions will be recorded and posted on our Hands-on Labs blog if you cannot attend session. Please join us as these are a great opportunity to ask questions, provide feedback and learn how we use our products to run the VMware Hands-on Labs service.

VMware Hands-on Labs Backstage Pass – Webinar Schedule / Abstracts

March 25, 2014

Session #1  VMware vSphere Operations Management 101 – Online Workshop
In our vSphere with Operations Management 101 online workshop, you will learn first-hand how vCenter Operations Manager can help you manage your vSphere environments. We will walk you through the steps to access the live vCenter Operations labs.  Using the Hands-on Labs online portal you will be able try vCenter Operations Manager and chat with our VMware experts who use this product to monitor the Hands-on Labs infrastructure. Attend this online workshop to see how vCenter Operations Manager provides comprehensive visibility into the health and performance of your vSphere environments, helps you improve the efficiency of your virtual infrastructure, increase your consolidation ratios, and how it provides capacity management with “what if” planning capabilities.

This online workshop is targeted at customers who are running vSphere and who are new to vSphere with Operations Management. Registration is closed thanks for your interest.

April 2, 2014

Session #2 – Backstage with VMware Hands-on Labs.

In this Session Bill Call and Doug Baer will walk you through an overview of the Hands-on Labs infrastructure, design considerations when creating our vApps (vPods) and how we move them across multiple datacenters around the world.

This technical session is for architects, and administrators running datacenters. The content level is intermediate to advanced. Please plan to attend and be prepared to ask questions at the end of the talk.  We also encourage you to start thinking about joining us for VMworld 2014 in San Francisco or Barcelona and visiting us in the Hands-on Labs room. 30 minute talk /presentation with plenty of room for questions and answers.

Webinar / Conference Call Details

May 7th 2014

Session #3 – Performance Testing Tuning Hands-on Labs Architecture with @jpschnee and Joeyd.

This session will discuss how we tested and tuned our Datacenters for optimal performance. Josh will discuss the tools he used to test our multiple clouds and Joey will go into details on the infrastructure we have deployed and our planning for VMworld. This is a great session for folks getting ready to roll out their Clouds and a great opportunity to ask questions.

(Conference and Bridge Information TBA)

Upcoming Maintenance window – March 19th 6:00 AM – 9:00 AM PST

Hands-on Labs - Maintenance Window
Folks,
Just wanted to make you aware of the planned Maintenance window coming up next week on March 19th.
We will be adding some fixes and updates to Project NEE.
During this time access to Hands-on Labs will be up and down
Please do not schedule any critical meetings, workshops for this time period.
Date: Wednesday March 19th
Time: 6:00 AM – 9:00 AM PST
What: NEE Portal will be going through updates / fixes you may experience HOLs going up and down.

Regards

VMware Hands-on Labs Team

Hands-on Labs: Exporting vPods

This is the third post in my series on Hands-on Labs behind the scenes. You can find the previous post on comparing cloud catalogs here.

To date, my biggest problem with synchronizing data between vCD instances has been the time required to export vApp templates from one cloud and import them into another. If you want to preserve vApp structure and (most) metadata, there is really only one way into or out of a vCD cloud. Simply having the VMDKs and VMX file from the backend vSphere is not enough. For those who have had to deal with these mechanisms on a regular basis, you know what I mean.

A vPod containing our base infrastructure for VMworld 2013 development looked something like the following. Most of our final vPods are quite a bit larger than this, but this is a pretty standard starting point.

Single Site Base vPod
VM Name vCPU vRAM (GB) Disk (GB)
controlcenter 1 2 20
esx-01a 2 4 2
esx-02a 2 4 2
stgb-l-01a 1 2 68
vc-l-01a 2 4 33
vpodrouter 1 0.25 0.25

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Click Go -> Take the VSAN Hands-on Lab !

Folks

Huge congratulations to the teams for launching VSAN !

You can now explore a fully provisioned version of VSAN at your finger tips. No special hardware, or licenses needed to run a lab and the best part is you can explore VSAN at your leisure using most modern browsers…

Important Links for VSAN Hands-on Labs:

Take your VSAN Lab – http://vmware.com/go/vsanlab

Lab Manuals in HTML / PDF – http://docs.hol.vmware.com/HOL-2013/HOL-SDC-1308_html_en

 

Synchronizing Cloud Catalogs

This post is part 2 in a series on the backend processes we use to manage the Hands-on Labs. The first part is available here.
CatalogSync-Clouds
Before I get into the guts of handling export, replication and import, I think it is important to understand how to identify which templates we need to work with. Sure, starting from scratch is simple: you have a bunch of templates in cloud A that you need to replicate to cloud B. Typically, that is going to take quite a bit of time. The problems involved with initial transfer to the cloud are similar to those encountered when standing up a new DR facility. Namely, how do you “seed” the DR site with the data from production. Shipping a box of tapes and performing a restore is often the least expensive option, but may not provide what you expect if your data change rate is high. That discussion is beyond the scope of this post, but I can come back around to it if there is enough interest.

“Version Control”

Back to the topic at hand. Once we have a set of clouds that host our content, we need to ensure that the templates available in each cloud are the same. As we revise our content, we check in new versions with new names. Each of our labs have a “Lab Code” or “SKU” that we use to identify them internally. For example, our wildly popular NSX lab has a SKU of “HOL-SDC-1303,” which is easier to track than the full name, “VMware NSX Network Virtualization Platform.” The first template for this lab might be called HOL-SDC-1303-v1. When we make a change to that lab, we check it in as HOL-SDC-1303-v2, then HOL-SDC-1303-v3, and so on. This is a rather simplistic practice, but it serves its purpose. Continue reading

The art of inviting a friend to take a lab – VMware Hands-on Labs

Happy Friday Folks,

Just wanted to take a few minutes to give you some background on the “Invite a Friend” feature we have in the Hands-on Labs Portal…

This feature was requested by some our friends in the community that liked the content we had in our site and wanted an easier way to share the lab with their friends… so lets get started

Inviting a friend is easy…

1. Go to http://labs.hol.vmware.com – if you don’t have an account you can self register

VMware Hands-on Labs invite a friend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2 – Choose your method  (You must have your Twitter, FB, Linked accounts associated in your  HOL Profile Settings – go to My Profile and associate your Social Media Accounts with HOL)  My friends tend to ignore my emails so I tend to use my twitter account a little more.

VMware Hands-on Labs invite a friend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please note: Your friends will receive an email from “admin@projectnee.com” so it is important you use relevant / descriptive subject lines see below.

VMware Hands-on Labs invite a friend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well that is all I have for this wonderful afternoon thanks for reading and remember be kind invite a friend to take a lab !

Help shape the future of VMware Hands-on Labs – join us March 5th, 9:00 AM PST

help shape the future of vmware hands-on labs

Friends of VMware Hands-on Labs,
We wanted to share with our users our planning for the 2014 season and get feedback from you. This is a great opportunity to share your ideas, and tell us what you would like to see.

Agenda

- Update on Hands-on Labs / Direction
– Content Planning for 2014 Season
– What would you like to see in next generation labs
– Portal / Website updates in the works
– Open Feedback

Session will be recorded and posted for folks that cannot attend.

Hands-on-Labs-Feedback

How to send text to console – New Feature VMware Hands-on Labs

Folks,

Just wanted to call out a new feature the teams have put into the HOL portal to allow users to send text directly to the console – Some of you might not have been able to enter credentials into some of the labs due to a bug encountered when using international keyboard.

The send text to console button will appear after you start your lab – it is in the lower left hand side of your window (see below)

Hope this helps making your life easier when taking your labs – Enjoy !

Send-Text-to-Console