Let’s talk about SexiGraf

I was introduced to SexiGraf by Eric Bussink during a roundtable at the April London VMUG meeting. The room was divided into those who said “Oh yeah, SexiGraf, it’s awesome” and those, like me, who hadn’t yet discovered it.

2017-06-20

SexiGraf is a free community tool that creates some great (you might even say sexy) graphs based on vCenter statistics. Whilst it might not have all the bells and whistles of the big commercial monitoring solutions it does provide a neat, easy to use, web-based interface to get at those important headline figures and how they’ve changed over time.

Screenshot_20170620-092020The small footprint  (2vCPU, 2GB) makes it ideal for the homelab, but there’s also scope for keying into larger production environments to get a quick look at the state of your environment, event from a mobile device when you’re at the airport or in a meeting.

Installation is straightforward and well documented- SexiGraf deploys via an OVF template to the Virtual Infrastructure and connection to vCenter just requires a read-only vSphere credential to be provided. Updates are quick and easy too as a simple patch package can be uploaded via the web admin interface and the server patched in minutes without any loss of history.

Having run this myself for just a couple of months I can already see the benefits both from a capacity planning point of view but also when troubleshooting- “is this host using resources differently to others?” or “is the cluster usage different to normal?”.

As well as the vSphere statistics, SexiGraf is continually expanding it’s range. VMware vSAN, Windows, and FreeNAS connectivity is all offered and HP C7000 and S.M.A.R.T counters are under development.

If you haven’t yet discovered it, I’d recommend having a look. Downloads and full details are here- http://www.sexigraf.fr/


Advert:

Microsoft.Jet.OLEDB.4.0 provider is not registered on the local machine

I’ve come across this error a couple of times in the past few weeks when migrating old ASP.NET websites to new web servers so I’m popping it into the blog as an aide-memoire for myself and in case it’s useful for others.

The error message below (“Server Error in … Application”, “The Microsoft.Jet.OLEDB.4.0 provider is not registered on the local machine) pops up when trying to open a page which uses the database (in this case a Microsoft Access DB).

2017-06-16

The fix is to enable 32-bit applications for the relevant Application Pool using Internet Information Services Manager.  The Jet drivers are not 64-bit, and by default IIS8 (Server 2012R2) has 32-bit apps disabled.

  1. Open IIS Manager
  2. Navigate to the Application Pools Node underneath the web server.
  3. Select the App Pool in question. If in doubt look at the “Applications” column, if only one has any applications in it then that’s the one you want 🙂
  4. On the Actions menu on the right-hand side click on “Advanced Settings”
  5. In the “Advanced Settings” dialog set the value of “Enable 32-Bit Applications” to True and click OK.

2017-06-16 (1)

VMworld Europe 2017

It’s confirmed- I’ll be returning to Barcelona in September as an official Blogger for VMworld Europe 2017. Thanks again to Corey Romero and the VMware Community team for extending me this opportunity.

Following the 2016 event I’m looking forward to a week of intense learning whilst meeting old friends and making new ones. If you fancy joining me, here’s what you need to know about registering and getting to the event:

What, When, Where?

VMworld Europe is the EMEA leg of the largest virtualisation conference in the world. It offers not only an front-row seat to the latest and greatest offerings from VMware themselves but also the newest developments from the massive ecosystem of suppliers that VMware sit in.

This year the conference returns to Barcelona slightly earlier than usual- on the 11th to the 14th of September. This is just 10 days after the equivalent US event.

Getting that Conference Pass

Registration for the conference is open now and there’s a number of discounts available to help keep the cost down. The Early Bird Rate runs till 20th June and takes 200 Euros off the price. Additionally if you’re a VMUG Advantage subscriber or VCP certified you can get an additional 75 Euro reduction. Finally there’s lower prices for groups (if you want to take your colleagues along) and for Alumni of the event.

Check the registration page on VMworld.com for full details and to register online.

Getting There

Barcelona is served by the city airport – El Prat – with flights from most locations. Once on the ground there is a direct Metro connection to both the conference centre (€4.50 per ticket) and the city, shuttle buses (€5.90) to the city centre, and of course taxis are readily available.

Plane

Easyjet. One of the many airlines that serve Barcelona airport.

The conference centre- Fira Gran Via– is located outside the city centre, and easily accessible on the Metro. In previous years I’ve found this to be a quick, safe, and reliable method of getting around town. The entrance to VMworld is adjacent to the “Fira” station on the L9 Sud metro line (see here for some more info) and free metro passes are usually available for attendees from the conference reception. If not a “T-10 ticket” is currently 10 Euros and valid for ten journeys- you can purchase them at the vending machines in any station (which have multi-language support).

Fira Gran Via

VMworld 2016 at the Fira Gran Via conference centre.

Accommodation

When booking your conference pass for VMworld you can also book a discounted hotel room from their official list, but there are many hotels, AirBnBs, and apartments available in Barcelona. In my experience I would recommend finding a hotel near to a Metro station- locations near Plaça de Catalunya, Avenue del Paraŀlel, or north-east of Plaça de Espanya along Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes are all handy for both the metro links to the conference itself but also the evening events which are held in the city centre and beachfront areas.

W Hotel in Barcelona

The W hotel on the beach- one of Barcelona’s premier hotels. Great views, but you’ll want a taxi to get anywhere.

Questions

If you have any questions, feel free to ask me below or on Twitter and I’ll help if I can. The VMworld organisers themselves can be contacted through the conference website or Twitter, or link in the hashtag #VMworld for community assistance.

Go on, VMworld is less than 100 days away so register now and I’ll see you there!

VMworld

VMworld 2017-One Month Left on Early Bird Discount

Early-Bird pricing for the annual VMware VMworld events ends June 12th (for the US event) and June 20th (for the European event). That means there’s only a month to go before the price goes up to the regular rate.

The event is (as always) shaping up to be great, and whilst details are still under development I’m expecting the following to feature at the event.

  • vSphere on AWS. This was announced last year (just in time for the VMworld Europe keynote) with release lined up for mid-2017. I’m expecting to see a launch, lots of publicity, and a few customer stories from those who have been trying it out already. I think there will also be a continuing push on VMware products on other clouds- the recent Horizon on Azure announcement and the VMware/Google Partnership as just two examples.
  • vSAN. Version 6.6 was released in April this year and based on the normal release tempo and comments and discussions on podcasts and in community meetings I’m expecting the next version to be announced at VMworld, possibly with a GA date just afterwards. What will the new version bring? At this moment I’m not too sure but I’m expecting continuing developments around the data encryption introduced in 6.6.
  • Dell. The Dell takeover was announced at the start of VMworld Europe 2015 and was finalised September last year. Whilst there have been some worries about the acquisition of VMware adversely affecting it’s independence and the flourishing ecosystem –many of whom are Dell’s competitors – don’t forget that VMware was owned by EMC before this and this didn’t seem to affect other storage vendors interaction. The whole company, from Michael Dell and Pat Gelsinger down have from the outset said that VMware would keep that independence, and I’m happy to believe that. I’m expecting the Dell-EMC presence to be as strong as ever but I’m also expecting the other vendors to continue on.
  • On the Dell EMC front, at DellEMC World they recently announced VDI Complete Solutions– a hyperconverged platform running vSphere/Horizon sold on an Op-Ex friendly subscription model. This has got quite a few people excited and I’m expecting to hear more on this front. I also wouldn’t be surprised if other hardware vendors made a similar offering.

Early-Bird discounts end in June for both the US and European events, so what are you waiting for?

OneDrive, Placeholders, and shared PCs.

OneDrive now with Files On Demand

At their annual Build conference, Microsoft announced that OneDrive was getting a new feature called “Files On Demand”- basically a replacement for the placeholders feature that was present in Windows 8.1’s OneDrive client. The official Office blog goes into more detail about the new features, and there’s a detailed writeup by Paul Thurrott which also includes the history of OneDrive placeholders, but I’d like to discuss the advantages for the education vertical- in particular Student PC labs.

Microsoft kindly offer OneDrive to University students for basically nothing, so it sounds like an ideal replacement for traditional on-premises network file-shares. Rather than the IT department struggling to provide 50 or 100GB of space per student from their budget, they could just point students at the 1 TB of disk Microsoft is providing for free.

Sync Good

A sink. Not a sync

Not this kind of sync


With a single regular user and enough local hard disk space a sync client without placeholders is fine. All the users files are synced to the local disk and available instantly whenever they are required. The selective sync in the current Windows 10 client helps on devices with smaller disks, but is still only really beneficial on a PC with a single regular user.

Sync Bad

On the students personal devices this works great- we’re back at this 1 user:1 device ratio. However in a student PC lab environment there are potentially hundreds of desktops and each of tens of thousands of users could log into any one at any time. We have a x,000:1 user:device ratio. Students don’t want to login to a machine at the start of a class and then wait whilst half a terabyte of data they don’t need syncs before document they need appears. Additionally IT don’t want to have to tidy up all this synced data after every user logs off.

Student Computer Labs

It’s technically possible (although can be a little fiddly depending on your infrastructure) to map your OneDrive to a drive letter using WebDav and then access it as you would a traditional “Home” drive, but this is unsupported by Microsoft. There are third party solutions that will map the drive, basically providing a front end and a support contract around this, but they’re often costly and may require infrastructure changes.

Placeholders FTW

Placeholders (or “Files On Demand”) is the ideal solution here. The student now sits down at the shared lab machine and all their files are listed. They then open the file of their choice and there’s an invisible, seamless, download in the background. When they save the file it’s synced back to the cloud. The user is happy as they no longer has to wait for all their files to sync before they can work and can take advantage of the large capacity (and sharing facilities too). IT are happy because they don’t have to fund (and support, maintain) as much storage.

I know many IT Professionals working in Higher Education will be looking forward to this release in the autumn.