VMware VRDCEX – London VMUG

So we started the new year with a bang and I have a whole post about the 1st LonVMUG anyway but I thought I would get this up and online. I did my 1st ever ’45 minute’ session and I am sure I now have the bug… I am already thinking what can I do next if the committee will let me back

It was a great session and it was nice with it being interactive as I have already fed some of the ideas back but here were a few of the top ones. The main thing to stress is this was done on a HP mixed reality headset so these are far more affordable than the Oculus and the Vive so anyone can give it a go. Also due to the app it does run on quite a few machines.

  • Try and make it AR compatible, maybe so you can see the hosts in front of you
  • Read a QR code from a device to get an exploded view
  • View stats or performance metrics within the experience
  • One great one from the community was to use this for training and the ability to dive into devices and make it interactive or even allow for remote training.

This tweet did also amuse me but I don’t think Pat has anything to worry about

I may re-upload this but here is the video of me looking silly anyway!

 

Starting 2018 with some goals

Starting 2018 with some goals

So if you haven’t already read it go get the amazing book by Melissa called IT Architect Journey. Initially I had set some soft goals whilst at VMworld last year whilst speaking with her but now I think is the best time to do this as I know I am going to be going through some great changes in the coming weeks of which I hope I can share soon! This year is the full evolution from engineer to architect for me or at least I hope so!

So yes firstly go get this book if you haven’t already as its also on sale

Then a copy of the below chart

So from the above I am going to have 3 key points I want to work on but break these down into three further sub components so I can measure my progress

  1. Achieve a recognised qualification
  2. Get better with people and presenting
  3. Work on my documentation

So how can I then have a subset of these to develop some skills and below is my ideas for achieving recognised qualification

  1. Cloud Exam – Pass an Amazon AWS exam or Azure equivalent
  2. Infrastructure –  Go for my NPP or VMware exams
  3. Start NPX or VCDX – I want to write a whole post about this as I think the NPX is a great path way to VCDX especially for us in the UK

So my next set of goals is getting better with people and presenting

  1. Attend and present at a local user group
  2. Attend a major conference and see if I can present or even a vBrownBag
  3. Collect a full RFP and understand the requirements from my business/client

Finally I want to work on my documentation

  1. Keep blogging and update the OpenHomeLab along with key posts on community forums
  2. Work on a good template I can share with my colleagues and even the community for system/infrastructure designs
  3. Maybe enter Virtual Design Master for a 3rd year or guest judge so I can work on the concepts of the above

And when do I want to have all this done by…. 2019! Why not be ambitious as I have done some of this before. Anyway I can always pull these out further and as part of my architect journey I may well want to look at another goal such as networking or project management and of course best of luck to anyone with their goals.

VMware VRDCEX – On HP Mixed Reality (Windows VR)

VMware VRDCEX – On HP Mixed Reality (Windows VR)

So I am at it again… I was very very lucky to get a HP mixed reality headset for Christmas mainly down to the fact I like being purchase savvy and the laptop I purchased (sorry my amazing wife as a present) wasn’t only on offer but it still qualified for the headset for free! I thought again this was going to be a very drawn out process and well due to the work I did with the Oculus well it took me all of 20 minutes to get this up and going! The nice thing is its a little easy to set up if I want to demo this out anywhere!

There are only a few steps some hopefully oblivious you miss and others you need to do but go open my other guide in another tab here! (just for reference)

Step 1. Get all the required files for VRDCEX by cloning/downloading the GitHub Repo and getting the build from here  

Step 2. Extract both these files to a common location, I decided to put these under the below folder but its fine to chose your own

Step 3. Go setup your Windows Mixed Reality Headset as you usually would if you haven’t already done so

Step 4. Go grab the latest copy of Steam and Steam VR once Steam is setup. This essentially works as our translator/interpreter for our Mixed reality headset. so we don’t need any coding. Before we start to configure VRDCEX we need to launch Steam VR just to ensure it can see the Mixed reality headset. You will also need the following plugin from here via Steam. I found I had to reboot once or twice and ensure that playing around with the Mixed Reality portal being open or not

 

 

For any demo’s I usually try and use Standing Only as space is usually limited, you may also get the very cool Portal inspired intro to help you configure the headset… I am not sure if  you will see all this below or if it was because I also have the Oculus available on my machine.

If you have got this far hopefully you will now see the below. Try and put on the headset and just make sure that SteamVR does load before continuing

You can see Steam sees the Mixed Reality and Oculus with their respective components


Step 5. Lets get down to the main bit and install/configure VRDCEX. Firstly go back to Steam and select add game at the bottom of your games list. 

From here select browse and navigate to where you extracted your downloads earlier and select the executable. Hit add selected programs and you should now see this appear in your Steam library.

Step 6 (Optional). Go to your extracted files and find the assets folder and wire mock. Create a shortcut on your desktop for On-Prem_Endpoint.bat. You will also need the latest version of Java JRE. The nice thing about this is until you are ready it allows you to play with the app by emulating vCenter.

I used JRE 8U151 for my configuration 
Double click your shortcut but you will need to override Windows 10 protection as it was downloaded

Check that everything is running by going to https://localhost:8082 before proceeding

Step 7. It sounds odd but go and launch the exe but don’t really worry about your headset. You need to do this as it generates a configuration file under your app data folder that you need to amend. Close the VRDCEX app once its opened and then open the config file. In mine I have put the Wireframe emulator in step 5 but you can put in your own vCenter here at any point.

Step 8. Enjoy…. Go back to Steam and launch your App! Put on your headset and enjoy your virtual datacenter

I have done a little demo video of it running just to show you the subtlety of the way Steam pulls in the Windows controllers VS the Hive or Oculus its really quite clever

 

VMware VRDCEX Live & Tech UG Meetings

Of late I have been a little behind with blogging due to a few bush fires sidelining me during projects and the recent weather in the UK but I really wanted to get this post out along with a few others over the next few days.

I was lucky enough to be invited to not only one but two TechUG meetings and drove some discussions there. I tried to keep this as interactive as possible and after the first live demo success I re ran my home lab slides. If you wanted my slides from that day they are here don’t forget your books!

TechUGNov2017Slides

But the most interesting bit was I decided to live demo of VRDCEX and each time it went fairly well. This is an absolutely awesome project and can’t wait to see it grow. I certainly don’t match up to Alan or Pat’s delivery but I think I will get better with practise.

They are both in 4K so if anything I will use these as testers on things

The next big thing for me is now that I have this going on the Oculus I want to see if I can I get this going on my HP Mixed Reality Headset and then where can I further expand on this. Can I get APIs on here for switches and firewalls etc and then produce smoke coming out of them if they are broken! Again with mixed reality can I look at the server and then expand it out!!!

If you haven’t do so already go grab the files or my post here on how to make this work with the Oculus if you don’t have a HTC Vive

VMware VRDCEX on Oculus Rift

VMware VRDCEX on Oculus Rift

So if you haven’t already seen it Alan Renouf did an awesome live demo with Pat Gelsinger at VMWorld Barcelona. I was fortunate enough to see this on a session at the end of the US VMworld of which I just wish it was more publicised as it was a great session. Well either way if you want a recap here it is below. Its just a shame I wasn’t brave enough to ask Joe Baguley to demo this at UKVMUG this week

So why write this article, I have recently been fortunate enough to be the owner of an Oculus Rift but all the code and demos are written for the HTC Vive or so I thought. I have found a nice workaround without the need of any proprietary  coding to help the adoption of this awesome project. I am also hoping to add to the below with a video how to.

My only little preamble is this may be subject to change as some of this is using beta/alpha software and I achieved this using the following

VRDCEX 0.2a

Latest version of Steam and Steam VR

Oculus Rift with Beta Enabled

Java JRE 8U151

 

Step 1. Get all the required files for VRDCEX by cloning/downloading the GitHub Repo and getting the build from here  

Step 2. Extract both these files to a common location, I decided to put these under the below folder but its fine to chose your own

Step 3. Go get the latest copy of Oculus and enable the following features one you have done your setup. Select the cog at the top and go into settings. Select the Beta submenu and enable the public test channel. Finally go into general and enable unknown sources.


Step 4. Go grab the latest copy of Steam and Steam VR once Steam is setup. This essentially works as our translator/interpreter for our Oculus so we don’t need any coding. Before we start to configure VRDCEX we need to launch Steam VR just to ensure it can see the Oculus.

 

 

For any demo’s I usually try and use Standing Only as space is usually limited

If you have got this far hopefully you will now see the below. Try and put on the headset and just make sure that SteamVR does load before continuing

Step 5. Lets get down to the main bit and install/configure VRDCEX. Firstly go back to Steam and select add game at the bottom of your games list. 

From here select browse and navigate to where you extracted your downloads earlier and select the executable. Hit add selected programs and you should now see this appear in your Steam library.

Step 6 (Optional). Go to your extracted files and find the assets folder and wire mock. Create a shortcut on your desktop for On-Prem_Endpoint.bat. You will also need the latest version of Java JRE. The nice thing about this is until you are ready it allows you to play with the app by emulating vCenter.

I used JRE 8U151 for my configuration
Double click your shortcut but you will need to override Windows 10 protection as it was downloaded

Check that everything is running by going to https://localhost:8082 before proceeding

Step 7. It sounds odd but go and launch the exe but don’t really worry about your headset. You need to do this as it generates a configuration file under your app data folder that you need to amend. Close the VRDCEX app once its opened and then open the config file. In mine I have put the Wireframe emulator in step 5 but you can put in your own vCenter here at any point.

Step 8. Enjoy…. Go back to Steam and launch your App! Put on your headset and enjoy your virtual datacenter

Bonus:- Once you have launched it a few times you should now see this in the Oculus menu!

Ravello on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, times are a changing

Ravello on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, times are a changing

So if you have been following my blog you would know I was lucky enough to attend the Ravello Blog Day here and this was a great experience and I can now certainly say what is now GA is the same

Firstly I just wanted to summarise what this solution can do for you and in its simplest form. It can take your existing VMware VMs and run them in the cloud with no or very little changes. Again most my changes were down to bad ex coding where people referenced Public IPs and not DNS of which is a major gripe of mine. But essentially what this means is you can take your legacy system(s) and run them in the cloud now on three platforms Google, AWS and now the bare metal Oracle cloud. This is great for testing, development, patch runs and in some cases being able to break these legacy apps away so you can do VMware upgrades if OS or software isn’t supported.

They are able to do this by emulating the drivers with their proprietary technology HVX of which their summary is below

Data-center like capabilities on public cloud

Ravello enables data-center-like capabilities on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure with its next generation nested hypervisor – HVX. HVX comprises of three components:

  1. Nested virtualization engine – that runs the VMware VMs on underlying cloud without needing any modifications
  2. Networking overlay – that offers a clean Layer 2 network to the guest VMs (including broadcast & multicast capabilities) typically unsupported on public cloud
  3. Storage overlay – that abstracts the underlying cloud storage and exposes block devices to the VMware VMs.
    HVX’s nested virtualization engine supports three modes to offer unparalleled performance when running VMware VMs on cloud. These nested virtualization modes are – hardware assisted, direct on bare metal, and software assisted.

For me the networking element is great as I have come across legacy apps that of course cant route and need that layer 2 broadcast. This is also typical also down to the fact the cloud vendor don’t want to expose this to you. The other benefit of HVX now being able to run on bare metal is the performance gains you can get as they can expose the hardware directly to your VM and also tap into those all important hardware assists to get performance gains.

What this means is you can now get 32vCPUs and a whopping 200gb of RAM per instance. So this leads me onto my experience and use cases as I was lucky enough to try and run some system on this over the last week.

For me I am going to start to look further into this but i think for me I will be seeing if I can run a test and training lab on this kind of platform for the following reasons

  • Its easy to lift and shift with VMs staying on the current IP subnet
  • Due to this I can simulate errors and train colleagues on how to fix issues on the live environment without affecting live
  • We could make a as near live system with permissions but nullified data to train our sales guys on our products with a similar day to day experience
  • I can template this whole environment and then have multiple running at once for a stream of training and testing

My initial idea was building out from Alastair Cook’s amazing system AutoLab but I wanted to put a few extra things on the edge for ease of access such as a Citrix NetScaler of which I could build some desktops or publish our app direct to the web but still require credentials to access it.

Overall the system built fast and much quicker than running this the Google or AWS infrastructure. At this point I have to say that their support team are exceptional and its a breath of fresh air that they logged into my instance as I started to get this below

Firstly I was like oh maybe I have just run out of credits but we were granted full unlimited access to this during the test phase of which I found very kind of them. What they had told me is that there are a few extra flags to check once you turn things up to 11 which is what I did. If you want get the full advantage of the system just ensure that you make sure the preferPhysicalHost is flagged as I managed to turn this off some of VMs whilst I was poking around. Again a great spot and quick response from their support team considering the timezone differences.

I am going to continue to work on my blueprint with my vExpert hours despite is being slower with the fact I know I can crank this up and test to my hearts content if required. It is also going to help me immensely with some of our apps where I forever get the blame its my hardware/infrastructure over any code or data. This way I can easily just spin it up and see if I get the same performance issues as even the networking & VMware levels are the same. The only thing I may have to do is create a VSAN like Tim has done here

So just to summarise its easy to migrate, networking is simple and you can get stellar performance

And if its good enough for the below companies its certainly worth keeping an eye on

 

You can also check out some of the other delegate and beta testers thoughts here and not just take my word for it

Ather Beg

Mike Preston

Robert Verdam

Finally interested in trying Ravello on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure? They can help by sign-up for a free trial here and drop them a line here.