My Home Setup

I think the equipment an IT professional uses in their home and the time they take at home for technology is a reflection of their dedication. Keeping up with technology is hard to do solely at work. Using various devices and software at home is one way to help broaden one’s knowledge.

The cornerstone of my home network is a box running Sophos XG Firewall Home Edition. Sophos is more than just a firewall. It can do anti-malware scanning, IPS, VPN, and many other services. I can talk a lot about my experiences with Sophos. I will write deep drive of Sophos XG Firewall in a future article.

My wired devices are connected to a 8 port gig Meraki switch, MS220-8. I use a Meraki MR33 for a 802.11ac wireless access point. Both devices are cloud managed. I was a little skeptical at first, but I can now really say that I like Meraki’s dashboard that allows management of my devices. The dashboard allows a lot of configuration to be done before a customer even receives the devices. Then the device will pull down the config once it’s connected to the network.

I do not work in networking so I enjoyed seeing a different side then I am use to at work. I am not taking advantage of all features, but I enjoy testing what I can do. A wifi guest network can be easily isolated. Also, packet capture can be easily ran from the dashboard against an AP or port of the switch.

I, of course, build my own computers and enjoy the process. Though, I’m really due for building a new one. My computer is showing it’s age with an i7 Ivy Bridge, but it still gets the job done. I use VMware workstation when I want to spin up some VMs.

Here’s a couple device a have for fun. I have a Raspberry Pi, which I currently run RetroPie on it. RetroPie is loaded with emulators and makes it easy to play some classic games. I have a Steam Link that allows me to stream games from my computer. I got it on sale for $30 and it can stream anything from my computer so even non-gamers may find a use for it.

The most odd ball set of devices I have are MoCA network adapters, ECB2500C. MoCA is fun to say and an easy way to expand a home network over existing coaxial cable. For example, I live in an apartment that already had coaxial ran to a room that I wanted a wired connection. I just added couple of the adapters to easily extend my network.

My home setup is small, but I consider it elaborate and to the point. My goal is for it to be secure and easily functional for home related devices. I am not one for having devices for the sake of having them. I like to make sure I use everything I have.


VeeamON 2017 – Part 3

This will be my last article on VeeamON 2017, which will be a mix of my thoughts from the event. I meant a lot of great people throughout the entire event. Everyone was eager to offer their ideas and help. Customers and partners traveled from all over the world and I saw some as far as Singapore. The Canadians were my favorite to hang out with!

Veeam had a nice lounge area filled with Veeam employees. Attendees could ask technical questions directly to the support staff at the event. If they didn’t know the answer or needed logs, they would give priority to a ticket once it was created.


Above is a photo of the show floor with the vendors and dining area in the back. Does not look like many attendees around, but that is because this photo was taken in between back to back breakout sessions. The back side of each vendor you see actually has an additional company behind it. There was a good mix of vendors from big names, such as Microsoft and VMware, to smaller cloud based companies.

I couldn’t miss talking about the food and parties. Veeam made sure to keep everyone busy all day and night. If all that wasn’t enough, there was always Bourbon Street for some late night fun. A lot of the food during the event was traditional New Orleans dishes and it was delicious. There was a pub crawl Wednesday night that spanned across four venues and each venue was unique. Then the Veeam party on Thursday night was amazing. The party was filled with live music, food, and drinks at a beautiful venue called Generations Hall.

I had a blast at VeeamON and I have enjoyed looking back as I wrote these articles. I’ve always been a fan of Veeam and now I am an even bigger one. If all this talk got you excited for attending next year, then you can now start making your plans. Veeam already announced VeeamON 2018, which is scheduled for May 14-16 in Chicago.


VeeamON 2017 – Part 2 – Breakout Sessions

I’m still amazed Veeam and it’s partners squeezed in 85 break out sessions throughout the event. I had a tough decision most of the time on which session to attend as many sessions shared the same time slot. Fortunately, the schedule listed details for each session saying if it was business, partner, or technical. Then technical had a few levels so that helped to describe how deep the session will go.

My favorite session was How to Back Up and Restore VMware vCenter Server Appliance (vCSA) and Platform Controllers Properly. The session was hosted by a Emad Younis, Technical Marketing Engineer from VMware, and Mike White, Technical Evangelist from Veeam Software. They started off talking about VMware Platform Services Controller. The PSC was new to vSphere 6 so it’s been around for a little while now, but good to get a refresher. Then they went into backing up and restoring the vCSA and PSC. Backing up the vCSA in 6 is the same as previous versions. Do not bother backing up the vCSA’s databases. Use Veeam or another product to back up the vCSA and PSC VMs. Then restore the vCSA VM directly to a host. However, the PSC is a little different if using Enhanced Linked Mode, which means there will be more than one PSC. Deploy a new PSC and join to the existing SSO domain. Replication will simply kick in and bring the PSC up to speed. If only one PSC, then just restore it.

I thought there would have been more love for Veeam ONE. There were actually only two sessions! I know it’s the sidekick to Back and Replication, but more sessions on it would have been appreciated. I attended one of the two. The second one wasn’t relevant to me since it was about how to scale Veeam ONE. My Veeam ONE server is fine. The session I attended,  Take Out the Guesswork with Veeam ONE & Chargeback, went into some reports and alarms. A couple of the reports, powered off VMs and VMS with no archive copy are ones that I never looked. There are a great many of reports so nice to get some tips on others to look at outside of my routine ones. They talked about a useful tip on creating an alarm for a VM that has not be backed up for defined amount of time. This is good to catch a bug that sometime stops backing up VMs within a vApp with no warning or error.


The photo above was from What’s New in v10: A Deeper Dive, hosted by Anton Gostev. His sessions seemed to be the most popular by far. People were lining up for his sessions that were in the smaller rooms, but at least the deep dive was in the big hall.

The breakout sessions were hit and miss as some of the presenters did a better job than others with going through their topics. However, I certainly understand that every presenter puts in a lot of time and effort. I got something out of each session I went to. Perhaps one day I can think of an interesting topic to present and start small at a local VMUG.

VeeamON 2017 – Part 1


I had an amazing time attending VeeamON last week. The event during the day was packed with many presentations and nights were filled with parties. There was a lot going on from a company that doesn’t have many products. However, they are the best at what they do and have a strong following.

The keynote on Wednesday focused on availability. Peter McKay, co-CEO, described data being as valuable as oil was last century. I understand where he was going with the comparison, but hard to compare a natural resource to data. He talked about how Veeam has been growing at a steady rate since the company formed 10 years ago. Though, they added 1,000 employees in the last year and will add hundreds more the next year.

I always wondered how the name Veeam was created. Turns out it is basically how saying the letters V and M sound. I thought that was interesting for how simple it is. After all, they are, of course, all about virtual machines from backing up and monitoring so makes sense.

John Metzger, VP product marketing, made announcements for version 10 of Backup and Replication, which is the next major release. There will be a new feature called continuous data protection. RPO can be set to seconds if someone has the bandwidth for it. There will be native object storage support to take advantage of a service, such as AWS’s S3. There will be a new Veeam agent for Windows. Backing up to a NAS will be supported. He said that a lot of customers have requested it, which I didn’t realize. New APIs for storage vendors; IBM, Lenovo, and Infinidat. A Microsoft fail over cluster will now be able to be backed up. Check out Veeam’s official page on version 10 for more details.

I’ve never used VMware’s Log Insight, but I have always wanted to Implement it. Veeam will have integration with Log Insight. I’m sure customers with Back and Replication, and Log Insight will appreciate one place to review logs with products that work so closely together.

The keynote had a few live demos. Veeam had their engineers discussing and showing the audience some of the new features. One of the first things I noticed when the version 10 client was opened was finally a tab on the left of the client for history. In the current version, it was a gear with no label, which made it look like it was for some sort of settings. Anyway, just glad they finally made where to view the history more obvious as everyone I worked with surprised that’s the history button.

To be honest, I wasn’t too interested in the keynote on Thursday. The speakers focused  mostly on Azure. I have nothing against Azure. Looks better than AWS in many ways. Just something I haven’t worked with yet. Anyway, nice that everyone that attended received the book Zero Day: A Jeff Aiken Novel.

Everything still looks green to me as if I have a filter on my glasses. Veeam loves the color green and makes everything a shade of green. Some of the speakers even joked they must wear at least 3 things that are green. I’m still slowly catching up at home. I will make my next article on the breakout sessions.

VMware Certifications

I have not been a fan of VMware certifications since they decided to make the VCP expire after only two years of holding the certification. To top it off, the policy was even for past certification holders. Everyone had two years before they had to pass another exam! If not, an expensive class would be required again before taking an exam.

After that being said, I have kept up with the game and took my VMware skill set to the next level last year by passing the VCAP5-DCA. I studied more for that exam than I have ever done for any other exam. I learned a lot from the entire experience. I took the exam on the 5.5 objectives so I’m not sure how relevant my advice would be now. However, I decided to post what I said on the VCAP-DCA Study Group in case it may help others.

I passed with a score of 347. I took the exam on Saturday and received my results in about 3 hours.

I, of course, ran out of time during the exam. I worked nonstop. I don’t know what would have happened if I stepped away to use the bathroom. I completed everything I knew and went back to the few labs I wasn’t sure about.

I obtained a lot of great information in this group. I went back to the beginning of the group and read everything. Other places I learned from was the VMware Press VCAP book, Jason Nash’s Plural Sight videos, Paul Grevink’s study guide, Josh’s lab, and other various blogs. I spent about 4 months preparing for the exam going over all that material and practicing in my lab.

I’m so happy to pass the exam. I learned so much from the experience. I’m looking forward to taking a break for a while. Then take the design exam on 6.

The next VMware certification I go for will be the VCAP6-DCV Design. That will earn me the VCIX-DCV because my first VCAP basically counts as the deploy requirement. I may try to squeeze in upgrading my MCSA 2012 to 2016 before my next VCAP.



VMware’s Cloud Strategy Finally Shaping Up

VMware has dominated on-premise virtualization for years, but has struggled in the cloud. Everyone knew vCloud Air was way behind AWS and Azure. I barely heard much about vCloud Air lately and not even a mention at the recent VMUG I attend.

First let me go over a couple sell offs in the past year. VMware sold its vCloud government service on August 31 to QTS. Then this month OVH announced it would like to buy vCloud air. Bye bye vCloud Air!

VMware has pivoted, which I think they have a better chance of being successful. That is with leveraging NSX in the cloud  and piggybacking off of already large, established cloud providers. They made the announcement during VMware world last year about their partnership with Amazon. Seemed like a rushed announcement since they didn’t have anything to show for a while. However, more technical information has been shared this year. Also, VMware has already been working with IBM Cloud and I heard plans for them to do the same with Azure.

I’m very interested in seeing how VMware will do with offering cross cloud architecture. Perhaps the cloud will not be siloed between vendors in the future. Check out The Fluffy Admin’s article on VMware Cloud on AWS for more information.

Review – Potomac Regional VMUG UserCon 2017

I always enjoy going to the VMUG UserCons. This year was no different. I attended my 5th UserCon on March 22. The Potomac Regional VMUG UserCon 2017 was at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, DC. This UserCon seemed smaller than previous years. Perhaps it was due to email notifications for the event only going out about 2 weeks prior to the event.

The keynote speakers were the best that I remember of all the Potomac Regional UseCons I’ve been to. Scott Lowe had a more serious speech in the morning compared to Chris Wahl’s jovial speech at the end of the event. Scott went into the ever changing IT profession and how the term DevOps is often missed used. DevOps is not a postion. It’s a collaboration between developers and operations/infrastructure professionals. Chris’s keynote seemed more like a motivational speech, which I appreciated and honestly needed to hear myself. He went into his journey on how and he started in IT and how got where he is today. Sometimes it’s hard to make that jump to the next level. He was advocating for everyone to get involved with GitHub in some way. Even if it is to point out a spelling/grammar error like he did with Docker.

On a lighter side, the food is always great at these events. Impossible to go home hungry. Started off with a standard breakfast. Lunch had many options and a couple desserts. Can always count on cookies in the afternoon too. They even had milk this time to go along with the cookies this time. Finally the open bar and hors d’oeuvres at the end was a nice finishing touch.

There were a few breakout sessions that I enjoyed. Usually vendors are of course doing most of the presenting and it’s geared towards their products. However, once in a while, there’s a presentation hosted by a vendor that is not specific to any product they offer. This year Rubrik’s session titled Auditing and Enforcing a Consistent vSphere Configuration using PowerShell and Pester. This fits what I just described. On top of doing a keynote, Chris Wahl hosted that session. The title of the session describes the project well and you can check it out further on GitHub.

I also enjoyed the two VMware host sessions. The first one I attended was VMware Cloud on AWS. I was happy to finally receive more details on the AWS and VMware Cloud collaboration. I haven’t seen more information until the past couple weeks. I should do a separate article to dive more into this topic. Josh Townsend presented the last VMware session I attended which was on VMware Cloud Foundation. Not really a product I would use, but interesting to see how far it was come. Definitely a much easier way for a company to get into virtualization. Can have vCenter, vSAN, and NSX up and running in a day without too much effort. Comparably speaking to someone setting up and configuring all that in a traditional way.

The VMUG leaders hosted another great event. Many thanks to all that are involved in organizing the event and to all the sponsors. Always great to network with my peers, see what vendor’s are offering, and have a change at winning a raffle prize. Speaking of the latter, I was not as lucky as I have been in the past, but there was a lot of cool stuff being given away. As always, everyone walked away with a bag full of swag. I absolutely enjoyed my time at the Potomac Regional VMUG UserCon and looking forward to the next event.