VMTN Communities - Now Supports Mobile Devices

This was not widely announced, so I guess that many of you do not know that since the upgrade that was performed on the VMware Community Forums (VMTN) there is now support for mobile devices
(such as Android and iPhone/iPad).

This is what it looks like through a regular tablet browser (Android with Chrome in my case). With a tablet this is pretty much ok, but from a phone the forums are pretty much unusable.


Here is a quick how-to on how you go about allowing mobile devices access to your account.

From a web browser - go to the preferences on your VMware Communities account.

Profile options

And choose the new Mobile Tab


Give your device a name and Get Activation Code

Mobile Tab

You will presented with a QR code that you can scan and an activation code number.

Activation Code

Scan the code which will take you to https://vmware.jive-mobile.com where you will already have the activation code in the link.

Now with the new interface.. Click on the login button.


Click on Register.


And now you will be logged with your credentials, with access to your recent activity on the forums.

Logged In

I think this is great improvement and makes the forums a lot easier to use on the go.

I would like to give a big shout out to Corey Romero (@vCommunityGuy) the Community Manager, for all the great work and planning that was put into the upgrade, and all the great day-to-day work he does for the community.

Thanks Corey!!


VMware Workstation & Fusion Technology Preview 2013

VMware have just released a new public beta for VMware Workstation

The VMware Workstation team is providing public access to the VMware Workstation Technology Preview to gather feedback from users on a wide range of hardware and software configurations. The VMware Workstation Technology Preview includes changes to the core virtualization engine and new capabilities we are exploring.

What's New - Read the full release notes

VMware Hardware Version 10 - This Technology Preview introduces hardware Version 10.   Hardware versions introduce new virtual hardware functionality and new features while enabling VMware to run legacy operating systems in our virtual machines.  

16 vCPUs - In this Technology Preview VMware Workstation is shipping Hardware Version 10 and has enabled our users to create and run virtual machines with up to 16 virtual CPUs.  Please let us know how this performs running your workloads.  We have run CPU benchmarks, encryption/decryption and encoding/decoding programs to characterize the performance, but we are interested in what results you get running other applications.

SSD Passthrough - Windows 8 is capable of detecting when it is being run from a solid state drive (SSD) and optimizes itself for this hardware.   In this Technology Preview, Workstation can detect when the Virtual Machine Disk file is being stored on an SSD drive and pass this information to the guest operating system to enable Windows 8 to make the same optimizations when it is running in a virtual machine.

Expiring Virtual Machines - VMware has enhanced the capabilities of Restricted Virtual Machines to include the ability to expire the virtual machine on a certain date at midnight UTC time (for now).  The intent of this feature is to enable customers to create virtual machines to be shared with employees, students, customers, contractors etc. that will run until the date that that you set. 

New Converter - This Workstation Technology Preview includes a preview of the next version of VMware Converter.   The Converter enables users to make Physical machines virtual.  This version of the Converter includes support the following enhancements:

  • Guest operating system support for Microsoft Windows 8 and Microsoft Windows Server 2012
  • Guest operating system support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6
  • Support for virtual and physical machine sources with GUID Partition Table (GPT) disks
  • Support for virtual and physical machine sources with Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI)
  • Support for EXT4 file system
  • Support for vSphere 5.1 virtual machine hardware version 9

Pre-Released OVFTool - The Open Virtual Machine Format (OVF) is a virtual machine distribution format that supports sharing virtual machines between products and organizations.  The VMware OVF Tool is a command-line utility that enables a user to import and export OVF packages to and from a wide variety of VMware products.

User Interface Enhancements:

There are other small changes that have been included in this release that you may discover and we are continuing to add more features but here are a couple of items that you may come across:

Windows 8 Unity Mode Support - We are continuing to improve on how our Unity Mode user-interface works with Microsoft's "Modern UI" or the "Microsoft Design Language" (The new tile interface in Windows 8 formerly known as Metro).   We have made some improvements and would like to know what you think!

Multiple Monitor Navigation - When running with 2,3,4 and even 5 or 6 monitors it has been frustrating to use the full screen mode in Workstation and toggle through each combination of monitors to get to the one you want.  The fullscreen toolbar now has an option to choose your configuration and jump to it immediately.

Power Off Suspended Virtual Machines - I am sure that this has happened to you as often as it happens to me.   You want to change the configuration of a virtual machine in your library that you use all of the time.   You open up the virtual machine settings dialog and everything is greyed out because the virtual machine is currently suspended.    Instead of powering on the virtual machine and waiting for it to boot up before powering it down to make the changes, the Technology Preview lets you simply power off the suspended Virtual Machine (as long as you don't care about what is in its memory).

Remote Hardware Upgrade - When working with virtual machines running remotely on vSphere or on another instance of Workstation, you can now remotely upgrade the Hardware version..

There is also a new release of VMware Fusion as well

VMware Labs is providing public access to the VMware Fusion Technology Preview 2013 to gather real-world feedback from users on a wide range of hardware and software configurations. The VMware Fusion Technology Preview includes changes to the core virtualization engine and new capabilities we are exploring.

  • Creating large VMs on appropriately equipped Macs (16 vCPUs, 64GB RAM)
  • Dictation Support
  • Network handling when running VMware ESX as a guest
  • Restricted virtual machines with an expiration date
  • PC Migration Assistant
  • Virtual Machine Compatibility pane under Settings
  • Improved handling of the Command/Windows key under Windows 8
  • General stability and correctness

What's New? - Read the full release notes


  • New virtual Hardware Version 10 with support for up to 16 vCPUs on Macs with more than 16 cores.
  • Support for up to 64GB of RAM per VM on Macs with sufficient memory.
  • Support for Mountain Lion Dictation.
  • Updated PC Migration Assistant.
  • Support for expiring a restricted virtual machine after a particular date.

User Interface

  • Redesigned Settings > Compatibility to provide more information about the limits associated with each virtual hardware version and product compatibility.
  • A virtual machine can now be rebooted to BIOS/EFI by performing the following actions: Settings > Startup Disk > Restart to firmware. The “Restart to firmware” option is shown when the “Alt/Option” key is held down.

Operating Systems

  • Improved handling of the Command key to prevent accidentally entering “Metro-style” when running Windows 8.


Change Outlook Meetings En Masse

I had my mailbox migrated to a new domain today. One of the side effects of this was that for silly reason, a large number of my meetings now had a prefix of Copy: added to the subject of the meeting.


Which annoyed the hell out of me.

Now I could go ahead and remove all the extra information one by one - but that is tedious annoying and against my automation principles.

So starting with this post Retrieve all-day appointments in Outlook with PowerShell and this one as well Create Outlook Appointments from PowerShell, I have managed to change all the outlook appointments that have the extra text in the subject line with the following lines of code

$olApp = New-Object -COM Outlook.Application
$namespace = $olApp.GetNamespace("MAPI")
$fldCalendar = $namespace.GetDefaultFolder(9)
$items = $fldCalendar.Items
$copies = $items  | ? {$_.Subject -like "Copy:*" }
$copies | % {
	$newsubject = ($_.Subject).Trim("Copy: ")
	$_.Subject = $newsubject





Gotta Love PowerShell!!

Choosing a Webhost for Your Blog

Many bloggers have their sites hosted somewhere. Personally I find it very convenient having my blog hosted under Google's Blogger service. Since I am having issue with my provider and mentioned it on Twitter, several people asked if I found a good new host, if I would not mind sharing the details with them.

I assume that none of you know that I used to run a private webhosting service as a side gig for a decent number of years, and I think that some of the knowledge I have accumulated over the year could be of great use in choosing the right Webhost for your blog.

First let's dive into what kind of services a webhost will usually provide.

Shared Hosting

Shared hosting means that you are get a certain amount of space on a shared server (it could be a physical server, or a virtual machine somewhere) where you can do a number of things. these usually are (but are not limited to)

  1. Create web pages
  2. Install Software - usually web interfaces to software like Wordpress, Forum software (phpBB). Softaculous is one such example.
  3. Configure email accounts
  4. Look at Web statistics
  5. FTP accounts
  6. Create MySQL databases
  7. Create Sub-domains or add-on domains if your account allows those features

All of these options are accessible through a control panel which is web based. If you like to administer your environment through a shell command and the host allows it (it will usually be a jailed shell - which is limited) then you can.

  • This is usually the cheapest option. Shared hosting goes for around anything from $2-$10 per month.
  • You do not need to manage anything regarding the operating system - your provider will take care of this.
  • The noisy neighbor - usually you are sharing the same server with a number of other people - sometimes an excessive amount of people it can go up into the hundreds… If one of them causes problems on the server then you all suffer.
  • You are usually quite limited in your resources, how many databases you can create, email accounts, disk space etc. etc.
  • Support is dependent solely on your provider, and more than often enough you know more about how things work than they do.
  • Disk space is limited
  • Resources you have to disposal are also limited including bandwidth, so if you have a popular site you will either have to go to a higher package or to the next level.
  • You have no guaranteed resources in terms of CPU/RAM/Network.

Reseller Hosting

This is very similar to the shared hosting, except you are placed in the "Junior Manager Role". Here you have the option to to create usually an almost unlimited number of accounts, host a large number of domains. This would be suitable if you are interested in hosting more than one domain and you are not interested in paying for a shared account for each and every domain.

  • Same as the shared account. Webhost
  • Prices go for anything from $5 a month to $60 per month depending on the provider and the resources you are using.
  • You can sometimes outsource the end-user support to the hosting provider, if they provide that kind of service
  • Your provider will support you regarding problems with the hosting software.
  • Again the same as the shared account
  • Here you usually have little / no limitations in the amount of resources you can create
  • The limiting factors here are bandwidth and disk space.
  • You have no guaranteed resources in terms of CPU/RAM/Network.
  • You are limited to the software on the server, i.e. if you want a certain version of PHP or MySQL and the server does not have installed the you are stuck


A VPS is sort of a semi dedicated server, I would compare this in a very general way to a hypervisor with several VM's but not a Type-1 hypervisor.

  • You have your own Operating system. All to your self, do what want with it - for better or for worse.
  • You have the option to choose what flavor of OS you would like - Ubuntu,Debian, Centos, etc…
  • You have your own IP - it is not shared.
  • You have a guaranteed set of resources, RAM, disk space and bandwidth
  • Your RAM resources have an option to expand to burstable level for short periods of time.
  • Your resources are guaranteed and isolated from your neighbors.
  • You have a Web interface that will allow you to restart your VPS (and OOB management interface)
  • Shell access is standard.
  • Changing plans is a no-brainer.
  • Re-installation is simple.
  • Your CPU resources are usually not guaranteed
  • Neither are your disk or network resources.
  • Unless you are using a managed (that means your provider is taking care of the VPS for you) then you are in charge of the VPS. Security, updates, software installation - the whole works.
  • There is a limit to how much the hardware can handle - so if your provider oversells (i.e. oversubscription in the VMware world) then you will have problems.
  • Prices are not cheap - and can run from $25 - $200 per month depending on the resources and you package.

Dedicated Server

If your site needs a dedicated server then you have either really very busy site - or your website utilizes scripts that are not working well, that your provider refuses to let you run on the current solutions (and yes I am speaking from experience)

  • You are the sole ruler of your kingdom.
  • Root access
  • Full CPU/RAM/Disk resources
  • Out of band management
  • You can run multiple Operating Systems, perhaps even install ESXi on it if your provider supports it.
  • Price - usually starts at over $100 per month and also requires a $50-$100 setup fee.
  • Hardware changes are expensive,
  • You are usually limited to 2 hard disks. (some configurations include SSD's
  • Network ports are usually 100Mb/s.
  • The same as a VPS unless it is managed

There are other options of course, new ones like cloud hosting, or Colocation, but I think for a blog these are overkill.

Now that we have gone over all the options, where do you actually find a good and reliable host? But first why do you need one? Well the answer to that is obvious. Your blog / brand is your face to the world. If your provider mucks up because they have not backup/DR plan and their server went down - then you are in trouble. If they are trying to make as much money and are overloading the servers, or have not been in business for more than a month then perhaps they are not such a good choice.

So how would you find a good and reliable host?

I would say the best place I know of would be the Webhostingtalk forums. This is an amazing resource for anything webhosting related. The forum is always busy and I would say is the best place to find information.

They have an offers forum for Shared Hosting, Reseller Hosting, VPS, Dedicated servers. The method I would advise for finding a reliable webhost is as follows, and I will take the VPS forum as an example.

VPS Offers

Firstly you have the sticky posts - these are usually the bigger hosts who have a really good name and reputation in the forums, and they have probably paid to have the posts put up at the top of the list.

Underneath that you will see a great deal of posts with a lot of offers. How do you know which ones are reliable. Well first thing is to look for a post with a number of replies greater that 10


If a post has a number of replies it could either because it is a really cheap deal, or perhaps because it is a very good deal.

Active User

I look at the when the member joined, and how many posts he has and also what kind of member they are. This one looks like he has been here for a while, and reputable.

Looking at another post with no replies

No Replies

Not active

The user has been around for a year or two but not active. Perhaps not a great idea.

So you found a good deal. Next thing you should do is search the forums to see what reviews others have posted regarding the company that you are looking at. I guarantee you, that if they do not provide decent service, or have not been honest - the thread will pop up in your search.

One last thing. Go the website of the provider, see if they have a support forum, go over the posts to see if people are happy with the service. Then open a support ticket, see how fast the response times are, check if they know what they are talking about. Checking these things before hand will save you a huge headache in the future..

To sum up this I would like to give you my recommendations of Webhosts from personal experience and some I currently use today.

Knownhost - By far the best company I have used over the years - they only deal in VPS servers and up. They are not cheap but the service they provide is fantastic!! Every support ticket I opened was responded within minutes, no matter what time of day it was. Again superb service, superb availability.

ResellerZoom - They deal in practically everything. Service was good, they have a very good budget plan, infrastructure is solid.

123Systems - They are budget provider, I have a VPS with them at the moment. Infrastructure is solid and support is very quick, but here you get what you pay for?

One last thing. Most bloggers use Wordpress as their platform for their blog, and I have seen several questions about who is a good Wordpress webhost.

I think that is the wrong question, because almost every single provider you can fins, especially those that use dedicated webhosting software like cPanel or DirectAdmin will offer you the option to install Wordpress and usually through a simple installation process.

So you can use almost any host you want, just go through the due diligence beforehand, otherwise you could regret it in the future.


Why a Single Feature Doesn't Matter?

Once upon a time… Nah… This is not a fairy tale so lets do it differently.

What is the maximum size of a virtual disk that vSphere 5.1 supports? If you have no idea, then probably you have not passed your VCP (because they ask those silly kind of questions) but you can use Eric Siebert's page VMware configuration maximums from 1.0 to 5.1 if you need a reminder.. 2TB

And how much does Hyper-V support? Much more.. 64TB.

And GCE? Well they have whopping 10TB persistent disk!

How many hosts in a does a single vCenter support? 1,000
And how many hosts per cluster? 32
And Powered on VM's? 10,000
And how many simultaneous vMotions?

But Hyper-V supports 64 nodes in a cluster and 8,000 VM's (if they are powered on or not I do not know..) and so many simultaneous Live Migrations..

(These numbers are valid for current versions, but I am sure that in future releases they will go up higher)

Who …. #@##@  Cares?????? (and therefore the reason for this post…)

It doesn't really matter who has supports a bigger disk. Scale

It does not matter if you can run 10,000 VM's or 8,000..

It is wonderful that you can store 10TB of data on a single persistent disk on GCE. (Heaven forbid that you actually have to replicate that amount of data somewhere else, back it up or even worse have to restore it!!)

And why not - because in approximately 80% of the deployments in the world (most probably more) - you will never get anywhere close to those numbers. You really won't!

So what is important then? And what should you really look for?

I would say is the solution which is suitable for you. Don't base your decisions on one parameter out of several hundred that most of you will never come across anyway.

Yes there are the certain edge cases that the sheer scale of some environments will exceed one maximum or the other. But I can assure you that when you hit 32 nodes in a single cluster I promise you, the fact that Hyper-V can support 64 is the last reason you should migrate your environment over.
If you are already going over 8,000 VM's in your Hyper-V environment then the fact that vCenter can support 10,000 should not be the reason to switch.

The technology that is suited for you, the technology that will allow your to fulfill your requirements, stand up to your SLA's, the one that suits your needs, the one that fits into your business practices and models, and that will be the most cost effective for you…

That is the solution you should choose.

(I shiver once more having to think about backing up / replicating a 10TB volume… Restoring that - don't even want to go there….)

Comments and thoughts of course are always welcome…


My Take on the vCenter Certificate Automation Tool

This is just a note to point you to an article that was recently published about my thoughts on the newly released vCenter Certificate Automation Tool 1.0.

The full post can be found on TechTarget below

Techtarget Article

I for one am looking forward to see vCert Manager released.


Upgrading to VMware's Latest Release of …

Jason Boche posted a great article vSphere 5.1 Update 1 Update Sequence and there he pointed to an excellent KB article released by VMware - Update sequence for vSphere 5.1 Update 1 and its compatible VMware products (2037630) 

I would like to add some of my thoughts about the mass release of products that happened last week.

First look at the screenshot below.

Update sequence

The first thing that I noticed - the number of products that are intertwined - is becoming larger and larger. 14 at the moment in this document.

I am extremely grateful to VMware for many things but two specific things in this context.

  1. They have provided a detailed document stating the order that you should perform the upgrade.
  2. They have released all of the versions at the same time - now the chance of having one component in my infrastructure that will not work with the new versions - is less likely to occur.

But on the other hand…

If I want to update your environment then you are in for a long …. ride.

Any enterprise that is using some or all of these components will not be able to © Thethirdman | Stock Free Imagesperform the upgrade in a day, probably not a week, and maybe it will take them months. A while back in my post Release Cycles and Why We Are Chasing Our Tails? I wrote about the effects of having rapid release cycles and why this will make things even more complicated. I agree that most of the components can be replaced with minimal or no substantial downtime to the end user, but there will always be edge cases of course.

It is now May 2013, and if we can assume that VMware will release a new version of their products sometime around VMworld (which is what they historically do), then it seems that your organization will have to go through this process, again, sometime in Q4 of 2013.

The question then arises - is it worthwhile to do this now, and then again start the whole process again in another 4 months?

If you are to upgrade the whole stack (or at least part of it - and please make a note that VMware does recommend that you upgrade/update everything to the latest version), when should it be done?

Update recommended

Should you do it now because of the new functionality that was added with Update 1?
Or perhaps wait for the next version - where historically substantial additional functionality is added (again based only on previous years and releases).

I admit this is a bit of a guessing game - but it is one that you should definitely consider and understand the ramifications of such a decision, and that is ..

When and how often should you upgrade your environment?