WebCommander Walnut Installation Walk-through

In a previous blog post from a far away history, I wrote about the WebCommander Fling (https://pascalswereld.nl/2013/10/30/webcommander/). Man that one is from 2013, I have been putting blog posts out there for a while now, hope you did find something useful on the blog…..
Anyhow back to this one. The WebCommander developer reached out in that previous post comment with a request to write-up a guide for WebCommander Walnut. I am writing it up as a walk-through to get it started and showing some output. If you would like some additions to the post, add some of the information your would like to see added to the post, or post questions / remarks and I will try to look if I can make some additions. But first….a little reminder about that commander out on the web…

What is WebCommander

WebCommander is a collection of web services around PowerShell and PowerCLI scripts. The interface can be used to provide users with scripts without them learning or knowing the PowerCLI commands. Or to give users access only to specific prepared tasks without giving them access to the web client (they still need to have permissions in the environment to do their operations). A great way in delegating specific tasks!

WebCommander was initially released and maintained as a VMware Fling. WebCommander was received very well by the community and saw the Fling being released as, and in turn moved to, an open source project on GitHub in 2014 (as announced on http://www.virtu-al.net/2014/09/03/webcommander-goes-open-source/).

The WebCommander project page can be found at: https://github.com/vmware/webcommander. This WebCommander version mainly uses XML with browser side transforming (XSLT). And when you hear version you know there might be another one, and yes there is WebCommander Walnut in a different branch.

WebCommander Walnut is to be used when :

  • you prefer JSON over XML,
  • combining commands in workflows for more or complex automation,
  • run local or cloud scripts (WebCommander Hybrid),
  • having a history,
  • 64-bit PowerShell,
  • more new features,
  • and a new User Interface


Take a look at WebCommander Walnut for yourself, go to GitHub: https://github.com/9whirls/webcommander_walnut

Installation Guide

Prepare the system:

Create a VM

Use Windows 2012R2 or Windows 2008R2 as the OS.

When using Windows2008R2 there are the following specifics:

  • Install .Net Framework 4.5.2. Needed for the installation of PowerShell v5 on 2008R2
  • Install PowerShell version 5

When using a fresh installation of Windows2012R2 install PowerShell Version 5.

For installation of the PowerShell version 5 install the Windows Management Framework 5.0 that can be downloaded as an update, or directly from https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=50395&ranMID=24542&ranEAID=TnL5HPStwNw&ranSiteID=TnL5HPStwNw-UGYM_0Jpr8QpSOcSBwTXfQ&tduid=(97816b302a22d507fcc1386696df4801)(256380)(2459594)(TnL5HPStwNw-UGYM_0Jpr8QpSOcSBwTXfQ)().

For Webcommander and PowerShell: Set-ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted -Force.

IIS Web-Server (including SubFeatures and Management Tools). Either use the Add Roles and Features GUI to install the Web Server role or use PowerShell:

Install-WindowsFeature Web-Server -IncludeManagementTools -IncludeAllSubFeature

PHP from https://php.iis.net. Click  ‘Install PHP now’ from the web site to download the latest version. Execute the downloaded exe to start the Web Platform Installer. Continue the installer with all the default options (you can change by clicking the options link) and accept to do the installation. The installer will download and install the prerequisites.

PHP IIS Installation

And click Finish when done.

Install MongoDB for commands history.

In short the procedure for MongoDB is:

MongoDB download CEIt should offer you the correct release and OS.

  • Install via the downloaded msi. Select complete or customize if you want. Complete will install in the default locations.
  • Add the installation location as a system path environment. The default installation location is C:\Program Files\MongoDB\Server\3.4\bin.
  • Use your powershell window used to install IIS or open a command prompt
  • MongoDB requires a data directory to store all data. MongoDB’s default data directory path is \data\db. Create this folder using the following a command line
md \data\db
  • Or use another location to suit your needs.
  • MongoDB also requires a location to store logs. Create the log folder using command line
md \data\log
  • Create a config file location with
md \data\conf
  • And add a text file mongodb.cfg there (watch the view – file extensions there!)
  • Add the following to the cfg file and save:
                  destination: file
                  path: c:\data\log\mongod.log
                  dbPath: c:\data\db


  • Install MongoDB as a Windows service by running mongod.exe with –install parameter (as administrator!).
mongod.exe --config "C:\data\conf\mongodb.cfg" --install

If you get api-ms-win-crt-runtime-l1-1-0.dll is missing from your computer like this

System Error - Mongod

your Windows updates either screwed up or you have to install Visual C++ Redistributable. (Re)installing Visual C++ will mostly do the trick.

  • And now we will have a MongoDB service (use –serviceName and –serviceDisplayName to change to another name if you wish).
  • Start the MongoDB service with net start MongoDB.
  • Create database and collection in MongoDB for WebCommander by running the commands below:
    • exe
    • use webcmd
    • createCollection(“history”)
    • Mongo should respond with “ok”:1
  • Install the MongoDB powershell module:
    • In PowerShellv5
Install-Module Mdbc
    • Accept the installation of required components.

Install latest version of VMware PowerCLI (version 6.5.1 at time of writing):

  • Good thing is that version 6.5.1 does not require a msi installer anymore. You can install from the PowerShell Gallery via PowerShellGet (and the correct version of PowerShell, but we covered that one already):
Install-Module VMware.PowerCLI
    • Use –Scope CurrentUser to use only for this user and no admin permissions required

Install WebCommander:

Download the files from GitHub, for example for the zip file: https://github.com/9whirls/webcommander_walnut/archive/master.zip

Extract the zip and copy to c:\WebCommander. Or use your own location.

The Zip is composed of the following files and directories as subdirs of the master directory:
www/ – These are the files that need to be setup as the web service in IIS. _def is the file that is used to add the locations to the local scripts as defined in sources.json.
powershell/ …the local commands powershells
README.md – Readme file of the project
sources.json – Locations of local and remote scripts when wanting to use the remote script capability.
Note: that is, currently composed of… You never know what the future brings

Note: For scripts depending on your security policy Windows will normally block the files because they were downloaded from an external location, so you will have to unblock these files. Select the file – properties – and press the unblock in the security part at the bottom.

Open IIS Manager to configure the WebCommander site:

  • Remove the default site
  • Add a new site (in this case I used the administrator to connect as to know which user is running, don’t just copy but do what is appropriate for your environment)

Add Webcommandersite

  • select the WebCommander site and open the authentication feature
  • Enable Windows Authentication, and disable Anonymous.

Site Authentication

  • If we now open a browser we will see the initial page

Initial Localhost

When clicking on select a command we can only select the remote commands. use the source.json to define the local locations. For me it was fixed when removing http://localhost/ from the local configuration to read: “local” : “_def.json”,

This one could also help as the _def.json was also a bit empty. Go to c:\WebCommander\powershell\ and execute .\genDefJson.ps1 to recreate the definition json. We should use genDefJson when updating any ps1 scripts.

And voila local also shows up

WebCommander Local also


Test drive WebCommander

There are scripts for vSphere actions and Horizon view actions distributed with the Git.

I have seen the following error message pop-up: AuthorizationManager check failed. The following is witnessed, and changed:

  • For some reason the execution policy is back to restricted, Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned or Unrestricted.
  • with the ExecutionPolicy set to RemoteSigned or Unrestricted, this error may occur if the script or some of the other included scripts is still blocked. From the explorer right-click the file, select Properties and click Unblock. Go through all the files!

Let see if we can get some vSphere information:

  • Add Command vSphere (local)
  • Add the required parameters, go to method to select what you want to do. I just want to see, so listDatastore is my option.
  • And press the play
  • Go to the output if there is a Pass
  • And ….

Pass vSphere (local)

If we want to get rid of the PowerCLI Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) warning in the output. Run the following in Powershell:

Set-PowerCLIConfiguration -ParticipateInCEIP $false

(optionally with -Scope User / AllUsers)

And that’s it for now

– Enjoy WebCommanding throughout the universe!

Sources: labs.vmware.com, virtu-al.net, github.com/9whirls/webcommander_walnut

EUC Toolbox: Regshotting across the end user universe

For managing applications and user environments it is very useful to know the way the application and the user behaves. And for application provisioning and user environment management it is necessary to know where the application and system stores the settings and personalizations options. We will need some form of application to use for capturing or monitoring the system for changes that the application or it’s settings are doing. For UEM for example we have the Application Profiler to use and create application configuration or predefined settings. But if you like to see where our Windows friend stores its changes, application profiler is not enough. We need other tools for the job. We can use Process monitor (https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/processmonitor.aspx) or SpyStudio (http://www.nektra.com/products/spystudio-api-monitor/) to name a few. Or regshot.

The main difference of regshot to, for example the mentioned Process monitor or SpyStudio, is that this tool does not require admin permissions like Process monitor or installation on the system like SpyStudio. You can just download and run in the user context. This is what is the strong point is of Regshot, low footprint and no changes to the system that could influence your capturing. As long as the changes you want to monitor are within the user context, but wasn’t this the point in the first place….

What does regshot do?

In short regshot takes a first and a second shot of the registry, and shows you the differences between these. Next to this regshot also allows you to scan dirs. For example save the registry and APPDATA after you have changed that minor customization. Isn’t that what you would want to see?

In short take a first shot before your change. Change the system and take a second shot. Press compare and see what has been changed. And use that output in for example UEM configurations.


First up the application is available in 32-bit and 64-bit, and in ANSI and Unicode encoding.

Regshot Files

The difference here is the program architecture and how the character encoding is handled. If for example your language settings include non-latin characters, you may want to use the Unicode version of Regshot. Else it will not matter which one you take as long as the processor architecture is right.

Secondly with the shots you can do your shot, or do and save your shot. When saved you can later use this with the load option.

Capture and shot

Third, want your output in HTML or text. HTML is friendlier on the eyes, however it will take some more time to output. Sometimes the external program connection to HTML is screwed.

Fourth is including a scandir. Default regshot will do registry, but a lot of application do save something in for example the AppData Local, ProgramData or other locations. I would recommend to include the scandirs where possible. To only downside is that you would need to know where an application stores its values, or put in the most likely suspects. Just going for all out C:\users is getting you a lot of background noises from other applications using the same space.

Fifth is setting an output path. Currently it is set to the administrators AppData profile path. If I am scanning dirs in that location it might be a better idea to redirect the output to another location not to mess up the output.

Do keep in mind not to let in a lot of cycles between the first and second shot. The system will continue to run and add up in changes between the shots. Do your required change and shoot again.

Where can I get Regshot?

RegShot is available on its Sourceforge project page at https://sourceforge.net/projects/regshot/. You can download Regshot as a compressed .7z file. You can open this with 7Zip or WinZip. Downpart of the 7z is that if you haven’t brought an additional zip application, native Windows can’t handle this. There goes my no changes to the system with using Regshot…..or just unzip it on another system ;)

Show me

Don’t mind if I do. First we are going to take our first shot. Just let the program count the keys and values, and the dirs and files, until the second shot button appears.

Regshot Shooting

I don’t mind the time it takes, my testlab is a bit on the slow hand. And including the scandir takes an even longer time than just browsing the registry. But I’m there for the results not the speed.

Next up do a change to the system. For this example I changed Chrome browser settings to show the home and always show the bookmark bar. Done with the change? Take the 2nd shot. And wait until the compare button is available. Than press that one. In the output is for example:

Keys Home

Now it is up to you to analyse what is needed..

We see that Chrome wrote to the \Software\Google\Chrome\PreferenceMACs in the USER SID key. However SIDs we cannot capture with for example UEM. We do know that this is the same as HKCU and can be captured from the HKCU\Software\Google\Chrome\PreferenceMACs. Just add the HKCU\Software\Google\Chrome\PreferenceMACs or HKCU\Software\Google\Chrome to be included in the UEM Configuration.

Now it is up to you to analyse what is needed.

– Happy shooting at your users…ermmm user environment I mean!

Sources: sourceforge.net/projects/regshot

Product Evaluation: Inuvika Open Virtual Desktop (OVD)

Occasionally I get a request, or some urge bubbles in me, to look at vendor X with its product Y. And there is nothing wrong with that as I like to keep a broader view on things and not just betting on one horse.

And so a request from Inuvika did find me asking to look at their evolution of the open virtual desktop (OVD) solution. Okay using virtual desktop and application delivery triggers will get my attention for sure. Kudos for that. On top of that the name Inuvika gets my curiosity running in again a somewhat higher gear. No problem, I will take a peek and see if I can brew up a blog article at the same time. At the same time was almost a year ago…..But still wanting to take that peek. You will probably figure out that letting  you read about OVD is a little bit overdue. Sorry for the delay….

A little notice up front: this blog post is my view only and not paid for, pre-published or otherwise influenced by the vendor. Their opinion might differ. Or not.

Wait what… Inuvika you say?

Yes Inuvika (ĭ-noo′vĭk-ă). If you open up your browser you could learn that the company name is based on a Canadian town Inuvik where it can be very cold. And that for 30 days in the year the sun doesn’t rise above the Horizon (*wink* *wink*). In such a place you will need a strong community and a collaborative approach to be able to be living in harse an environment. Their product strategy is the same. Offering an open source solution and collaborative with the community out there (however the separate community version and site is dead).
Inuvika mothership is based in Toronto, so hopefully that doesn’t lose a bit of the magic just introduced ;). But where ever they are based, it does not change the approach of Inuvika.

Main thing, the guys and gals from Inuvika is where you can get the Open Virtual Desktop from. Go to https://inuvika.com/downloads to download your version. Or take a peak around the site.

Open Virtual Desktop sounds interesting enough, show me

Glad you asked. Let’s find out. We have the option to use a trail version for evaluation purposes, enterprise license or the cloud version. I like it when we can find out a little about the bits and bytes ourselves. So I will be downloading OVD. But first up some architecture to know what screw and bolts we need, or can opt out from.


The following diagram has been taken from the architecture and system requirements document and show the components and the network flow for the system.

OVD-Architecture Overview

The OVD Roles:

  • The OVD Session Manager is first required component. The OSM will be installed prior to the other components. As the master of puppets it’s the session broker, administration console and centralized management of the other OVD components.
  • The OVD Application Server is one of the Slaveservers that will communicate with OSM. The OAS is the component that serves the application and desktops pools to the users. Accessed from either the web portal or the OVD Enterprise client. OAS is available in a Linux or Windows flavor. OAS can be pooled together and load balanced from the OSM. However you will need Enterprise for that as Foundation is limited to one application server (seriously just one?).
  • The OVD Web Access. OWA is responsible for managing and brokering Web sessions.Now where did we see that abbreviation before… Either using Java (going away in a next release) or HTML5, SSL tunneled if required. If using OVD clients only this is component is not needed. OWA will also offer an API (Javascript) to integrate OVD with other web-based applications.
  • The OVD File Server. The OFS component offers a centralized network file system to the users of the OAS’ses keeping access to the same data not depending on the OAS the user is on. Data can be user profiles, application data or other company data. The data is only accessible from the OAS sessions and is not published in another way like a contentlocker or dropbox.
  • ESG (hey wait no O something something). The Enterprise Secure Gateway is used as a unified access layer for external, but optionally also internal connections. ESG tunnels all the OVD connections between the client and itself, over a HTTPS session. So from any location, users that have access to HTTPS (443), will also be able to start a OVD session. If not using ESG tunnels OVD client will need to have HTTPS and RDP open to the OAS. Require the Enterprise license.
  • Further 2.3.0 brings a tech preview to OWAC. Web Application Connector to offer SSO integration as an identity appliance.

All components run on a Linux distribution supporting the flavors RHEL, CentOs or Ubuntu LTS. The only component where Windows will be used is when OAS is offering Windows desktops or Windows-based applications on RDS services. Supported RDS OS versions are Windows 2K8R2, W2012 and W2012R2. Isn’t it time for Windows 2016 by now?

In the OVD architecture we see sorts of familiar components that we see in similar virtual desktop solutions, only with a bit of a different naming. In a first overview the OVD architecture seems like what we are used to, no barriers here to cross.

In a production environment the Inuvika OVD installation will use several servers all doing their specific role. Some roles you will always see in a OVD deployment. Others are optional or can be configured to run together with other roles. And with external dependencies entering the mix with load balancers in front of OWA for example. Small shops will have some roles combined while having a smaller amount of OAS times n.

It all depends on the environment size and requirements you have for availability, scalability, resilience, security and so on.

Into the Bat-lab

Come on Robin to the Bat Cave! I mean the test lab. Time to see that OVD in action and take it for a spin. Lab action that is, however Inuvika also offers access to a hosted demo platform if you don’t have a lab or test environment lying around. From the download page https://inuvika.com/downloads you can download the Demo Appliance or register for the OVD Full installation. I will use the demo appliance for this blog post. As I would probably also would be installing multiple roles on the same virtual machine. The Demo Appliance is a virtual machine with the following OVD roles installed:

  • OVD Session Manager (OSM)
  • OVD Web Access (OWA),
  • OVD Application Server for Linux (OAS)
  • OVD File Server (OFS).

I will be using my Ravello Cloud vTestlab to host the OVD. So first I have to upload the OVA into the Ravello library. Once available in Ravello I can create a lab environment. I can just import the OVD, but I also want to see some client and AD integration if possible. I added my vTestlab domain controller and Windows 10 Clients in to the mix.

Invuvika Demo Lab

Let’s see if I can use them both, or I am wasting CPU cycles in Ravello. Good thing April is half through and I still have 720 CPU hours remaining this month, so not much of a problem in my book.

When starting the OVD demo appliance it will start with the Inuvika Configuration Tools. Choose your keyboard settings (US). And presto the appliance starts up with the IP I configured while deploying the application.

OVD - Demo Console after start

Here you can also capture the login details for the appliance: inuvika/inuvika. The default user for the administration console is admin/admin. Open up a browser and point to the FQDN or IP for web access. HTTP://<your appliance>/. Here we are greeted by a page where we can start a user sessions, open the administration console, documentation, the installer bits for the Windows AS and the clients.

The user sessions offered in the demo appliance are based on the internal users and internal Ubuntu Desktop and applications. The client can be set to desktop mode, which is a virtual desktop with the applications published to the user. Or can be portal mode, where the user is presented with a portal (so it’s not just a clever name) with all its application entitlements. The client starts with Java to allow for redirecting drives. Using HTML5 will not allow a drive to be redirected. The Demo appliance is populated with demo users where the password is the same as the user name. Just add cholland with password cholland in the client screen and you will be presented with a user session.

OVD Web login.png

And see the portal with the users entitlement and the file browser for data exchange between sessions.

OVD Demo - Client Portal

Start up a Firefox browser session and open my blog. Yup all works.

OVD - Client Firefox Blog

For using the Enterprise Client the demo appliance needs to be switched to Enterprise. And you need a license for that! Via the admin console you need to set the system in maintenance mode. Via the appliance console after logging in you get the menu where you can choose option 3 Install OVD Enterprise. After this you can set the system back to production, are greeted by a subscription error and via Configuration – Subscription Keys you can upload the license File. When a valid license is installed you can now run the Enterprise client for your evaluation. The client options are the somewhat similar as with the web client. Besides adding the site name in the client instead of a browser URL.

OVD Ent Client Login

We also have the administration console. While this has a bit more options and I am not trying to rewrite the documentation, I will show some of the parts. Basic try out the options yourself to see what the differences are.

We are greeted with an index page with an environment overview and user/applications publications. These will be the main actions when using the product. Of course we also have some menu options for reporting and configuration.

OVD - Admin Index

Let see if we can get some AD users in and entitle them to the demo. Seems like a lot of organization have their identity source already in place, and Microsoft is something used there. Configuration option seems like a logical part to start. And here we have the domain integration settings. Currently it is set to the internal database. Let get some information in the Microsoft option to see if we get the AD part in.

OVD - Configuration

I am using the internal users to keep it simple and leave in the support for Linux. This is a demo, not production.

When the information is done and added push the test button to see if the LDAP connect and bind works. Save when all green. Problems here? Go to status – logs to see wtf is happening. Main issues can be DNS, time offset or the standard account not having to correct information or UPN in the domain. The OVD Linux bind command is trying Login@Domain hardcoded.

And viola Administrator from the vTestlab domain has a session connected:

OVD - Administrator Session

My opinion about OVD

It works out of the box with any HTML5 Browser. Or you can of course use the Enterprise client, but this will required an Enterprise license and RDP or i-RDP to the client desktops (or ESG to be SSL tunneled).

[Edit] I most correct my previous version that Inuvika is using RDP as an enterprise display protocol.  That is not entirely true. OVD uses RemoteFX with the Enterprise Desktop Client and Windows Application Servers. RemoteFX is a set of technologies on top of RDP that enhances the visual experience significantly in comparison with the older RDP (the non-RemoteFX). Indeed better for the user experience, how much better we will leave up to the users. For Linux Application Servers there is not yet RemoteFX support, this is forthcoming.
[Close Edit]

For HTML browser user connections, or using the Enterprise client in combination with the ESG, OVD utilizes HTTPS (tcp/443) and thus is roadwarior friendly. With roadwarrior friendly I mean a service that is firewall friendly and makes hotel, Starbucks cafe or airport WiFi a place to use the environment without blockages, changing ports, VPN tunnels or not be able to use the service remotely from that location.

For IT Operations the administration console is in a single console. No scattering consoles or admin tools all over the place. And no dependencies, like the disliked flash plugin for some other solution out there ;). Further the expected components are there in a logical location.

Cross publishing apps between distributions is a very nice feature. Windows in Linux or Linux with Windows apps, great. Or add web applications to the mix. Furthermore Inuvika is not bound by a stack choice or hypervisor. VMware vSphere yes, Nutanix (Nutanix Ready AHV) yes, KVM, etc yes.

The use cases, applications and desktops still have to be assessed and designed accordingly. And these will be the most important bits for the users. This is what wins or breaks an EUC environment. I won’t see a lot of users now on Windows-based desktops and applications, going to Linux desktop and apps without more or less resistance and opposition. That Windows will be in there for now. But this is the same for the other vendors, not much difference here.

I personally don’t know what the user experience is when doing your day-to-day working throughout the business cycle. I haven’t come across Inuvika OVD in the wild.

One of the strong points of going open source is that the product will be improved by the contributions of the community (if there still is a community version….). That will mitigate some of the above. But also will require the OVD community to have a footprint of some sort for the required input and change. If the community is too small it will not be able to help Inuvika and the OVD user base.

I think cost wise it will be interesting for some shops out there looking to replace their EUC solutions and in the mean time look for ways to cut costs. These shops probably already have some issues and bad experience with their current solution along the way. I do not think organizations happy with VMware Horizon or Citrix will be lining up to replace their EUC with Inuvika. Yet ..that is.
This is a fast world, and it is interesting to see that there are vendors thinking outside of the paved roads. It makes their but also other solutions a better place for the users. It’s the community and open source that is really interesting here. So just give it a go and see for yourself. Don’t forget to share your experience with the community.

– Happy using your OVD from Inuvika!

Sources: inuvika.com.

Let’s get ready to cast your vote: vBlog 2015

Like the years before Eric Siebert of vSphere-Land.com is opening the annual vBlog voting for 2015 (http://vsphere-land.com/news/voting-now-open-for-the-2015-top-vmware-virtualization-blogs.html). This year Infinio is the sponsor and the top 50 is going to receive a special custom commemorative coin. All the blogs that are listed on vLaunchpad are on the ballot for the general voting. The top vBlog voting contest helps rank the most popular vblogs based on the community (you) votes and the outcome determines the ranking that is announced on the 19-03 Live show (and published on the vLaunchpad website).

Pascalswereld.nl is included on the voting ballot, but please keep in mind there is a lot of better blogs out there. As Eric states; keep in mind quality, frequency, longevity and length of the blogs out there when voting.
And of course your personal preferences ;-)

Ready to participate?

You can place your vote at: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/2032977/TopvBlog2015.

Good luck to all the great bloggers out there!

Sources: http://vsphere-land.com, http://info.infinio.com/topvblog2015


Community Survey: Project VRC State of the VDI and SBC union 2015

Once in a while a request comes to my e-mail box with content to be included on my blog. This time it is Ruben Spruijt (@rspruijt) and Jeroen van de Kamp (@thejeroen) contacting about their project VRC ‘State of the VDI and SBC union’ community survey for this year. As the community is an important and often high quality source for opinions, input and discussions, I wanted to take part in reaching out to this community for participating on this year survey. The success of a survey will be determined on the amount of quality high responses, and that is just what the IT community brings more then often. Not that I have an awful lot of followers, but hey it just takes two to tango ;-).

This Project VRC what’s that about?

Project VRC is an independent R&D project. VRC stands for Virtual Reality Check. The R&D project was started in early 2009 and focuses on research in the desktop and application virtualization market. Several white papers are published about performance impact and best practices regarding different hypervisors, application virtualization solution, (Published) Desktop OS, infrastructure solutions and such for the VDI and Server Based computing environments. The previous published white papers can be downloaded from http://www.projectvrc.com/white-papers. Of course you are also invited to take a look there. Previous survey white papers can be found there as well.

State of the VDI and SBC union survey 2015

In 2013 and 2014 Project VRC released the first iterations of community surveys about VDI and SBC environments. Over 1300 people participated so far. As times still continue on changing (and will be doing so on and on and on), and the more provided community knowledge as input for 2015 Project VRC the survey will get better and better. It needs your input (again if you already participated on previous versions). Who? Well everyone that is involved from strategy, designing, implementing and/or maintaining VDI or SBC environments can give helpful input in this survey. This survey probably will take no more than 10 minutes of your time. So what are you waiting for? A link probably, open www.projectvrc.com/blog/23-project-vrc-state-of-the-vdi-and-sbc-union-2015-survey or directly to the survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/VRC2015 to fill out the Project Virtual Reality Check “State of the VDI and SBC Union 2015” survey.

This survey will be closed on February 15th of 2015.

– Have fun!

Source: projectvrc.com

Let’s get ready to rumble – voting for the 2014 top VMware & virtualization blogs is open!

Eric Siebert (@ericsiebert) from vsphere-land.com yesterday opened this years voting for the 2014 top VMware & virtualization blogs.
There are some plus 300 blogs participating on this years ballot. And new for this year is some great prize giveaways courtesy of Veeam.

A lot changed from the 2008 beginning to this years voting. You can read all about the history in Eric’s http://vsphere-land.com/news/the-history-of-the-top-blog-voting-over-the-years.html
post. A big thanks you is in order to Eric for setting up this contest every year.

I am honoured to be part of the list of great VMware and virtualization blogs. I started a half year ago and this blogging stuff is hard work.
But I’m not ready yet. If you liked any of my content, please remember my blog for the voting. Yes there are a lot of good blogs on vLaunchpad (http://planet.vsphere-land.com/),
I will not be disapointed that much if I’m not in this years top lists. There is always next year(s). My content (and hopefuly my skills) will grow.

For this year voting can be done at this linkie : http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1553027/Top-VMware-virtualization-blogs-2014.
Voting can be done until 17 March 2014.


The voting procedure in short:

  • Step 1, Vote for your ten blogs for the top 50, when you reach ten the checkboxes will be greyed out. The current top 50 (that is the 2013) are in bold in the list. You can find Pascal’s Wereld on the 2014 ballot. But please vote accordant to your own taste.
  • Step 2, Drag the ten votes in the appropiate order. Rank 1 gets 10 points, Rank 10 get 1 point.
  • Step 3, Choose the favorites in the presented categories. If you didn’t pick blogs in the top 50, you can still vote for them in the categories. The top 50 and category lists are independant. Or you can go for the none if you accencidental never visit those blogs. Don’t forget Pascal’s Wereld in the New Blogger and independent blogger categories.
  • Step 4, Enter your name and e-mail address to be included in the price give a way. And fill in the nice Captcha.
  • Step 5, Submit.
  • Step 6, Tell others that you voted and let them vote as well.

Be honest in your voting and your selection of blogs. A little warning, there is some protection like Captcha, one vote per IP adress, location etc. If there is any indication of fraud these votes will be removed. If your in a organization/company network, be sure to be the first to cast the vote over your colleagues (and direct them to their home network to cast their vote)

– Please join the voting!

Being part of Nutanix blogger session and opening of EMEA HQ

On februari the 18th I, together with other bloggers from the Netherlands (the netherlands as a whole, not just one country), was invited to an informal Nutanix blogger session. One plus one is that I should make a blog about that.
At this session we were updated on the Nutanix EMEA HQ opening and strategy with the community and Nutanix. The update session was at the new EMEA HQ of Nutanix in Hoofddorp the Netherlands that was opened on the same day. At the blogger session founder / CEO Dheeraj Pandey (@trailsfootmarks) and Howard Ting (@howardting),VP Marketing/Product Management were also present. Great meeting these guys, and all the others from the Nutanix family. And also very nice to meet some of the community in person.


For the bloggers this session was all about how Nutanix needs the community and how the community can be an important part for Nutanix.

And we got a hard copy of the Nutanix special edition Software-Defined Storage for Dummies. You can grab your free e-version at http://go.nutanix.com/DummiesBook_SDSD.html.


(liked I tweeted a good combination bubbles, bloggers, software defined storage and opening of Nutanix EMEA )

But first a little about the Nutanix solution as I have not yet written about this subject (only named them in some IO articles).

Small introduction to Nutanix

Nutanix is a (hyper)converged infrastructure solution that consolidates the computing (server) tier and the storage tier into a single, integrated appliance. Nutanix calls this the Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform. The integrated appliances work in a modular building block design, what makes it a simple and scalable solution. This makes it easy to start with a small deployment and scale incremental to a large cluster solution. Because of the consolidation of the computing and storage tier, Nutanix eliminates the requirement for a complex storage infrastructure. This introduces simplicity to your infrastructure, and cuts down in deployment en engineering/maintenance costs. This furthermore keeps to IO within the Nutanix building blocks, at which your workloads gets it’s IO without having to move downstream and upstream to storage infrastructures. The simplicity goes even further with this solution by delivering rapid deployment without disruptions, and easy management from a single management layer.

Each Nutanix instance or node runs a hypervisor (VMware ESXi, KVM, Hyper-V are currently supported) and a Nutanix controller VM (CVM). This controller VM handles all IO operations for the nodes local hypervisor and VM’s.

An architecture model for a Nutanix node taken from the Nutanix web site.


When the Nutanix nodes are grouped together they form a distributed platform which is called the Nutanix Distributed File system (NDFS). To the hypervisor the NDFS appears to be a centralized storage layer, but from within the Nutanix solution the IO is handled local on the nodes to provide the highest performance to the required workload/User VM’s. And by forming a group, NDFS leverages techniques including striping, replication, auto-tiering, error detection, fail over and automatic recovery. By presenting centralized storage pools, hypervisor features like high availability, vMotion and DRS can be leveraged as well.

A perfect match for VD, for virtualizing business critical applications like MSSQL and Exchange and elastic big data.

The community

Nutanix acknowledges the importance of the community and is willing to be part of the community, and let the community be part of the Nutanix magic. As discussed at this blogger session, the community is needed to keep the company (and others in the digital space) honest and real. The company needs feedback from the community about technical and even strategical choices. It’s great of a company to reach out and acknowledge the importance of a community for a product, with a added bonus of an in person session. It takes two to tango….
Most bloggers will not be one subject biased, but we all have our favorite subjects and knowledge background were we can be of a specific assistance. Great solutions will be broader adopted in the (enough with borders) community. That is a step one, great for doing some more steps and match the community to some of the parts in the Nutanix solution.

Thanks Nutanix

A big thank you is in order for the invitation as I am just trying to get used to the community and practicing my blogging skills. Now let’s see how I can be part of this Nutanix community magic…..let’s see what will be `next’…..

Note to myself and my (finished) VCAP5-DCD exam experience

One of my objectives for this year is to pass the VCAP5-DCD exam and get certified in data center design. Seeing that the year is almost finished I have to put some actions to my words. I already did that by the way, I followed the VMware vSphere Design Workshop earlier this year (so preparations started way earlier than this blog post). Due to some events (of family art that I will not go into in blog post) that happened in the beginning of the year, I had to reschedule and my planning just went over the moon by ending up in October.
But… I have scheduled my VCAP-DCD5 exam at VMworld Barcelona.

I want to write down my experience of pursuing this certification and have a place to store my learning tool links for further reference in the last stint before the exam. So here goes….

What is VCAP5-DCD?

I probably have some readers outside of the VMware world so I first try to explain VCAP5-DCD. This data center virtualization certification track is composed of some acronyms; the first acronym part VCAP which is VMware Certified Advanced Professional, an advanced track of the VMware certification tracks. The second part DCD stands for Data Center Design. DCD is designed for IT architects who design (that a lot of designing ;-) ) and integrate VMware solutions in multi-site, large enterprise, virtualized environments.The third part is the 5, which is the version the certification is for. In this case vSphere 5.x.

The tracks are composed of the following levels:

– VCA. Associate. The first fundamentals.
– VCP. Professional. The IT Professional working with VMware environments.
– VCAP. The advanced professional. Advanced professional working, implementing and designing VMware environments.
– VCDX. The expert. Experts on designing the VMware environments.

Like the data center track VMware also offers Cloud and End User Computing certification tracks.

What is needed?

To achieve the VCAP5-DCD status you will have to be VCP5-DCV and you will have to pass the DCD exam. Pretty straightforward. There is no course prerequisite, but there are some recommended courses to follow like the design workshop I wrote about. The VMware vSphere: Design Workshop [V5.x] is a classroom or online three day course. An other highly recommended course is the free online self paced course Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Design [v5.X].
Last but not least you will have to have autorisation from VMware to start and schedule your examen, you can do that at http://mylearn.vmware.com/feedback.cfm?survey=31965.

Tools.. what can we use or find?

– The VCAP5-DCD Exam blueprint. The blueprint is intended to provide information about the VCAP5-DCD objectives covered in the exam, related resources, and recommended courses. This is your starting point. Download at http://mylearn.vmware.com/register.cfm?course=123608.
– VMware documentation included in the blueprint. Consist of whitepapers, customer references and such. Jason at virtuallanger.com created a zip package of all the documents. You can find and download them at the blogpost of Jason http://www.virtuallanger.com/2012/09/30/vcap-dcd-5-document-package/.
– Take the interactive exam simulation. This gives you insight in the simulations used at the exams (not the subject). Unfortunately this is rather small, but I have not yet find any others around. Access it at http://mylearn.vmware.com/register.cfm?course=149330.
– The VMware vSphere Design 2nd Edition book (also available for Kindle). Get it at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/VMware-VSphere-Design-Forbes-Guthrie/dp/1118407911/ref=dp_ob_title_bk.
– VCAP5-DCD Official Cert Guide: VMware Certified Advanced Professional 5  Data Center Design (VMware Press Certification). Kindle edition on Amazon. Great with scenario’s and questions to test your state of knowledge for the subjects. Also do visit writers (Paul McSharry) website http://www.elasticsky.co.uk/.
– Free instructional vSphere video’s. Look them up at http://vmwarelearning.com/. Be sure to stick to the objectives and not watch all the video’s.
– There are several locations to get the vBrownbags covering the VCAP5-DCD subjects. Go to http://professionalvmware.com/brownbags/ and register or search for the VCAP-DCD objectives (as they are not yet categorized). The sessions are also available via iTunes.
– Hands on experience. The baggage of knowledge you hold from real world experience. Else get your experience from Hands on Labs. VMware’s HOL is a great online place, go to http://www.projectnee.com/HOL/. You can also build your own labs (resources!) in VMware Workstation for example.
– VMware vSphere Plan and Design Service Delivery Kit. If your a solution partner you can grab this kit of partner central.


You can find a lot of VCAP5-DCD experience posts out there, just use your google-fu. Most of those post have one critical component in there (just next to preparation) and that one is time management. The exam consists of 100 questions and 225 minutes. But that not all multiple choices, there are several scenario’s in there. At the beginning of the exam you will be shown how many design tool scenario’s there are, and those together are time bound around one hour. So there is not lot of time to wander and take your time on obscure questions.

For now this is my list. I will try to update when I have some news. When you have some input or advice please drop them in the comments (or tweet them at me).

Update VMworld Exam Experience

So during VMworld I tried the exam. Next to it’s part of my goals, an important reason to do it on the VMworld site is the 75% off the price. But it is hard to do an exam in the middle of the VMworld hurricane, I missed passing with a couple of points. Main reason running out of time and missing some 10 questions and one scenario.
On Wednesday morning I had my chance. I had a bad night of sleep (something with my diner or nerves got my stomach doing somersaults), but I managed to reach the site (and some coffee) on time.

After signing in I entered the exam room. The exam starts with an assessment where you are in the VMware world of designing. I think they use the answers to present you with a specific set of questions, or an order of them. After this the exam starts. At the beginning you are told how much of the 100 questions are scenario’s. In my case there were six in total. After this the show starts for real.

The design question where a real difficulty. I had practiced with the interactive exam simulation (see above for linkie), but in the real world it was hard (maybe fatigue was a problem there to). I lost time just getting re-introduced to the system and lost a couple of drawings when trying to go back in the drawing to much. Next time use the scissors for disconnecting the connections and check if connection are connected properly else moving objects around really screws up your drawing (I knew this upfront, but somehow I didn’t do this in the real exam. Tried the undo to much). I kept count of the number of scenario’s on my note-board. Most of them were in the second part of the exam (well I mean after a started introduce a faster pace as already 2,5 hours were over and I wasn’t even past the half of the questions).

Most of the multiple questions have multiple answers where two or more answers are common. Several have resource subjects where the calculator comes in handy. The drag and drops are straightforward, but you will have to check if you dropped them in the right column. Sometimes the upper part of the column makes your answer go to the column above (same for the below). Stability is ok, I had to move computers when one of my scenario’s returned an error (what was probably due to my excessive use of shuffling around objects or hitting the undo button). But the time missed from the exam by moving is added when starting at the return point of the exam. Your open scenario (the one you are working on) is lost. All previous answers are saved. Unfortunately you miss some concentration.

Four hours weren’t enough for me. I tried to randomly tick some boxes on some remaining question when the countdown started. But I still had some ten questions open. After that the exam forcefully terminated. At somewhat past two in the afternoon it unfortunately did not show the congratulations, I missed about 20 points for that.

I was devastated the first half hour and tried some RR and walk it off around the venue. Exhausted the rest of the day. In the rest of the afternoon I followed some sessions and went to the VMworld party in the evening. There I did some drinks, food and some games. But I left early to catch some sleep.

Okay lesson learned: Don’t do this at a venue like VMworld. Pace should be up. Design tool simulation, repeat close to the exam. Check score report for subjects that need attention, and learn.

Update November 2013 – Passed

Today 15th of November I did my retake of the VCAP5-DCD exam. And this time I managed to finish all the questions and scenario’s in time. Furthermore this time the grade result was a Pass. I introduced a faster pace this time. Again I had six scenario’s, but this time the where almost all in the last part of the exam. But luckily time management was this time on my side.

I did a last repeat of VCAP5-DCD Official Cert Guide and VMware vSphere Design 2nd Edition book in the last week before the exam (just to get the 5.5 out of my system). I also checked the exam simulation and looked if I was confident with the exam blueprint. I was feeling better prepared and settled nicely in the exam. Question where faster answered then the first time, I probably got used to the question style and the exam drag and drops/scenario’s from the first time (however this is still partly a blur in my memory). The only hesitation was at the ending of the exam, shall I push the end exam button? Fortunately for me it showed congratulations!

– So with this I finish my DCD experience. What is going to be next?