Author Archives: Brandon Willmott

About Brandon Willmott

Brandon Willmott is a Global Sr. Solutions Engineer at VMware, 8x VMware vExpert, founder of the New Orleans VMUG and founder of the Baton Rouge VMUG. Brandon has been in IT for over 15 years, and holds AWS SA-A, VCP and CCNA certifications.

Tracking Performance and Usability Enhancements to VMware vSAN Since 6.6.1

I’ve been at VMware for 12 weeks now and continuing to work towards being a vSAN expert. One of my many challenges facing that goal is not only learning the current state of vSAN’s features and capabilities (the latest being 6.7U3) but also learning how vSAN operated in previous versions to articulate to my customers why feature X in this release is relevant to them.

VMware has released updates to vSAN 75 times since the initial release in 2014 and 12 updates in 2019 alone. So where is the best place to start for having a foundational understanding of modern vSAN functionality?

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Announcing VMware Cloud Foundation 3.8

VMware Cloud Foundation 3.8 was released in July 2019 and the biggest news in this release is the addition of public RESTful APIs for common tasks that are performed for workload domains and other day 2 operations. Managing Cloud Foundation in the SDDC manager is incredibly intuitive but customers have significant investment in existing IT and business systems such as vRA or ServiceNow. 

In large scale cloud foundation deployments like I work with in Global Accounts, this will be a heavily used feature because customers now have the ability to utilize existing provisioning workflows in vRA or create new workflows that allow ops teams to orchestrate even higher levels of automation. Some common operational tasks that are available in version 1 of the API are:

  • Commission and decommission hosts
  • Create and delete workload domains
  • Scale clusters
  • Manage network pools

Cloud Foundation 3.8 also adds capability for the SDDC manager to patch and upgrade all vRealize Suite components and NSX-T. In previous versions, SDDC manager could deploy vRealize Suite but initial config, patching, and upgrades were handled manually through each individual component. The Cloud Foundation engineering teams has been rapidly deploying enhancements and this version comes just 6 weeks since the last major release.

For further details such as release notes and planning and upgrade guides for Cloud Foundation 3.8, visit VMware Docs.

Level Up at the next VMUG Virtual Professional Development Event

Let’s be honest — if you’re a VMUG member, you get quite a few emails from VMUG and probably delete them without looking or quickly scan it and then delete it. I tend to do the latter but the one I received this morning caught my attention and quickly turned to excitement and I wanted to do my part to promote what I’m expecting to be a very beneficial event.

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VVols Readiness Checker for Pure Storage FlashArray

The SE organization at Pure has been hard at work promoting VMware VVols as it enables customers to take the next step in their virtualization journey: mobility. In an earlier post on the Pure Storage blog, Ray Mar wrote about the simplest VVols implementation in the industry. Getting up and running with VVols is effortless but there’s always those pesky minimum requirements to know about before you can begin implementing VVols.

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Update: Veeam Support for Volume Snapshots of a FlashArray Protection Group

In a previous post, I wrote about taking FlashArray snapshots with Veeam using a PowerShell script. At the time, there was a limitation that prevented Veeam from seeing protection group snapshots. The Pure Storage Plugin for Veeam version 1.1.40, was released on August 24, 2018 and support for volume snapshots created as part of a Pure Storage Protection Group are now available. Check out the KB article to download the update. Installation is a simple wizard that takes a minute or so to install.

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Taking FlashArray Snapshots with Veeam

In April 2018, Veeam released the Universal Storage API which enabled storage vendors like Pure Storage to create integrations for Veeam with their storage system. At a high level, this functionality allows Veeam to leverage storage system snapshots when performing backups as well as take snapshots of volumes for instant restore of VMs or granular file restoration.

In the initial release of the Pure Storage FlashArray plugin, the ability for Veeam to see and utilize existing snapshots on the FlashArray is unavailable. Additionally, it’s not currently possible for Veeam to take snapshots of all the volumes associated with a Protection Group. Joint customers have expressed the desire for this functionality but development takes time.

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Taking My Talents to the Docker Community

After reflecting on my personal goals and the recent announcement that VMUG was joining the Dell Technologies User Community, I’ve decided to step down from the leadership role of the New Orleans VMUG effective immediately and focus my attention on building the Docker community in Louisiana. This hasn’t been a rash decision because of the “acquisition” of VMUG by DTUC but rather an affirming indicator that now is the right time to move on.

I’ve been part of VMUG leadership since 2010 when I started the Baton Rouge VMUG (and sequentially the New Orleans VMUG in 2011). My motivation to start the groups stemmed from my lack of knowledge about virtualization, the desire to learn what others are doing, and what new technologies were coming to the market. I didn’t want to just be a consumer though, I wanted to create an environment where I could learn and then help others who had the questions of their own and start a feedback loop. After 6 years, I can look back and say that I was successful in achieving those goals and now I’m looking for the next challenge.

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I’m Going to OSCON!

I’m very excited that I’m attending my first OSCON this year, compliments of The Cloudcast. On the April 25, 2016 episode, it was announced that they were giving away two Bronze Level passes to the conference. To win a pass, they asked to send in a personal story about community and why you wanted to attend OSCON. I wanted to share my story with a wider audience:

I’ve had an interest in Linux and coding since 6th grade and did some intermediate level coding in high school, college, and in my career. Finding help online to complete a coding project or successfully getting something like XWindows running in the late 90s was quite difficult. Similarly today, learning new, uncharted, and complex systems such as Kubernetes and Mesos is challenging but the community around it is fanatical and extremely helpful. I find that the community surrounding a technology is a key to it’s success and the success of the business. I’ve found myself gravitating to upcoming technologies that have deeply rooted and committed communities because those are the ones that usually become a mainstay in the industry.

One of my first experiences with such a community was the VMware community via Twitter in 2010. I started down the path of virtualization at my employer and my head was spinning. I happened to find that there was a vast community of virtualization evangelists that shared best practices and experiences and it was awesome to connect with hundreds of people who were there to help others. From there, I learned about local VMware user groups and wanted to participate in one to hear what others were doing and try to learn more. Living in Louisiana, which isn’t a major city/tech hub, there wasn’t a local group. I found tremendous value in the virtual community and I wanted the same experience of learning and sharing in person as well. I reached out to VMware and told them I wanted to start a local chapter of the VMUG. I started the first VMUG in Louisiana in Baton Rouge and a year later, due to it’s success, VMware asked me to form and run a second user group in New Orleans. I’ve been running the New Orleans group for the last 4 years and continue to enjoy learning about how organization’s environments are maturing with the maturation of the ecosystem.

As virtualization has solidified itself as a basic function of the datacenter, I’ve found myself following the maturation of the datacenter and it’s all pointing towards open source software. This has been very refreshing for me personally because it feels that there has been a reset in the datacenter as it begins to reinvent itself. Once virtualization became an anchor of the datacenter, VMware and other ecosystem partners moved up the stack to build upon that foundation. This has brought more end-user related products to the market but has left the infrastructure architect without many new tools with which to innovate. Containers will be a pillar of the next generation datacenter and it’s all fueled by open source software. I’m excited to see how the shift away from enterprise software vendors, which have been to  have rigid and archaic ways of designing software, changes over the next few years. The flexibility of OSS will give organizations a way to consume software through the community which is free and empowered to define how the software or application is best built. The community around these technologies will have a strong influence to guide it in the best direction but the biggest impact of the community is to be engaging with each other to guide newcomers and strengthen the established members.

I look forward to becoming part of this community and meeting new people next week.

9 Months at PernixData: Recapping My Best Career Decision

It’s hard to believe that my one year anniversary at PernixData is in 3 months. I have to say that coming here has been the best career decision I’ve ever made. I’m proud to be a part of the fastest growing software infrastructure company in history and surrounded by highly talented and passionate people. Having come from the customer side, specifically a medical practice, it’s interesting to be part of a software company and be a part of a startup.

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Shiny new vStuff — Speak at a VMUG NOW!

Having spent the last 3.5 years as a VMUG leader of two different VMUGs and spent time talking to over a dozen other leaders, one issue persists in the VMUG community: lack of customer participation. VMUG recognized this and implemented the Feed4ward program to, “encourage every interested member to share their knowledge at a VMUG local group meeting or User Conference”. Knowledge sharing is what everyone’s there for but most of the time people are nervous about public speaking, don’t think they know enough to discuss topics with others, or they think what they do isn’t that different or interesting. That can all changes now! 

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