Renaming the vSphere SSO Database

Renaming the vSphere SSO database is simpler than you’d think.

The other day while working with a customer, we needed to rename the vSphere 5.1 Single Sign On database to ensure it aligned to naming conventions. As I’d never had to do this before, I read up on a few different KB articles: 204552820335162045528

Based on the information presented I did the following:

  • Backed up the SSO configuration using the “Generate vCenter Single Sign-On backup bundle” link in the Start -> Programs menu from the SSO server.
  • Performed a backup of the original SSO DB within the SQL Management Studio from the DB VM.
  • Finally, I took a snapshot of both the DB and SSO VMs as a safeguard.

Once the fallback plan was in place, I stopping the “vCenter Single Sign On” service on the SSO VM, then renamed the RSA database on the DB server to the conforming name.

Then I thought it was a matter of using the following command on the SSO VM:

ssocli configure-riat -a configure-db –database-host new_database_server –database-port new_database_port -m master_password

However, you may notice with the SSOCLI utility while there’s a Host, Port, Instance, Username and Password option… there is NOT a database name option. (I mistook the “instance” option allowing me to do what I needed at first). This perplexed me at first, how do I reconfigure SSO to point to a renamed database? After a little digging I worked out that the database name is configured not through the SSOCLI utility, but through a configuration file:

installdirectorySSOServerwebappsimsWEB-INFclassesjindi.properties

It’s as simple as changing the following line:

com.rsa.db.instance=dbnamehere

And that’s it! Restart the SSO service on your SSO VM and then fire up the vSphere Web Client. Also, thanks to Gabe for pointing me in the right direction for the config file.

Becoming More Efficient – PomodoroApp and LastPass

I am determined to refine my workflow and constantly improve in this area. Two of the tools I am using to help ​my efficiency is the mac based PomodoroApp and the password manager LastPass.

This article relates to a previous post around becoming more efficient in the way I live my life.

As some of you know I’m working on a pretty big project at the moment that requires a huge time investment. Late last year I set about trying to improve my efficiency to ensure my work / life balance didn’t suffer. Unfortunately as with some big projects, it has to some extent… however, I am determined to refine my workflow and constantly improve in this area. Two of the tools I am using to help my efficiency is the mac based PomodoroApp and the password manager LastPass.

I first heard about this “Pomodoro” thing a few years back from Scott Johnson, a podcaster and fellow geek. At the time I had no need for such a thing and disregarded it as something that didn’t interest me. Fast forward and my project now gives me a different perspective on time and how I need it use it. So I decided to give the PomodoroApp a try.

What is a Pomodoro? From Wikipedia: “The technique uses a timer to break down periods of work into 25-minute intervals called ‘Pomodori’ (from the Italian word for ‘tomatoes’) separated by short breaks.” The PomodoroApp is just a basic app that times you for 25 minutes (or whatever time you set) and then times a 5 minute break with alarms helping you to remember the time.

Now, I know that everyone works slightly differently and I was pretty sceptical that this time management technique would work for me. But oh my! How wrong I was! I must admit, I don’t use it all the time but when I have a set amount of work to get done in a short amount of time this helps me concentrate, reminds me to take a break and helps keep me on task. The breaks are especially important for me because I find myself working and working without a break, slowly loosing productivity. When I have a five minute break to stretch my legs, make a coffee or talk to the family, it helps me reset my focus for when I sit down for the next 25 minute block.

The downside? Well, sometimes you don’t WANT to work your butt off. At times you want to just methodically get through work and not be stressed about it. For me the Pomodoro Technique is a double edge sword. On one had it helps me get things done (no doubt about it) but on the other it does add to the stress of things if you don’t have a hard deadline to hit. For example I’m NOT using it to write this blog post, however I do when I have a writing deadline due from the publisher.

When Sony had their infamous PSN hacking debacle, I took it as notice to change the way I secured my digital life. I was one of the many who used the same password in multiple sites (and I’m sure many of you still do). Now I wasn’t so bad as to only have a single password for all sites, but I had a number that I rotated.

LastPass is an app that I use to stay efficient, and more importantly, secure. There are arguments both for and against password management apps, which ones a more secure, which ones do things the right way etc. For me the “right” way was just simply to use one and ensure I didn’t have multiple sites / accounts using the same password. LastPass helps me in this area, but it also help me be more efficient too.

The fact that I can have all of my passwords handy in every browser I use both desktop and mobile is a godsend. The auto-logon / fillout feature saves me time and mind power, I don’t think about my passwords, yet they are all complex with over 16 characters (where possible). I can now honestly say that I don’t have a single password that is duplicated on multiple sites.

LastPass, 1Password, whatever you may use, staying secure can be difficult and take time but if you have a system set up it’s just as convenient as using a single password for every account.

Becoming More Efficient – Evernote and TSW

One of the tools I’ve been using for a while now is Evernote, it’s a note taking, information capturing, cloud based… trusted system. I use it daily to sort through various tasks, notes and ideas. However, I use it in a different way than most.

This article relates to a previous post around becoming more efficient in the way I live my life.

One of the tools I’ve been using for a while now is Evernote, it’s a note taking, information capturing, cloud based… trusted system. I use it daily to sort through various tasks, notes and ideas. However, I use it in a different way than most.

For me, Evernote is my “everything”, if it’s not in Evernote I can pretty much guarantee that within a few days I will have forgotten about it. My mind can be like a sieve, and I can’t rely on it to hold everything I need to remember. Even if a task is sitting within an email in Outlook, I need to remember to look at it… plus look my personal task list, and also check my “projects” task list and… the list goes on. I needed a system that would take all of my task lists and ideas and put them into one central location. I needed it to be available all the time, both online & offline, and I also needed it on multiple devices. Evernote checks all of these requirements nicely. So I have this wonderful tool but I didn’t have a great system that used the tool effectively.

A while back I came across “The Secret Weapon” or TSW for short. Now I agree it has  an “interesting” name choice, but I was intreged on how it complemented Evernote and more importantly how it couple improve my efficiency.

For starters TSW gives you a process to follow to ingest all of your email based tasks into Evernote rather seamlessly. Secondly TSW takes the Getting Things Done principles and applies them to Evernote using tags so you can manage information in an efficient manner. It’s hard to explain how this all works without actually watching the videos on TSW’s website.

If you’re getting started or just want to be more organised, I recommend using Evernote and TSW. It’s not perfect, but you can always improve the system and tweak it to your liking!

VXLAN with vSphere

There’s an interesting article recently published by VMware’s Technical Marketing team around using VXLAN with vSphere. Typically most information around VXLAN that I have seen is geared towards integration with vCloud Director to stretch organisation and DC networks over multiple segments. This article however specifically deals with just the vSphere potion.

So for those of you that want to delve into VXLAN with a more traditional vSphere environment but without the added complexity of vCloud, I recommend you check it out:

http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/techpaper/VMware-VXLAN-Deployment-Guide.pdf

VMware Port Requirements

I’m currently working on a project in a very secure network. Sometimes it almost feels like every other server is in it’s own DMZ and I’m constantly looking up what the network ports need opening beteeen them.

The following document outlines port requirements. The reason I like it so much is because it’s not just one product, it’s for most of VMware’s product portfolio! Very handy.

http://kb.vmware.com/kb/1012382

Becoming More Efficient

In December last year, Scott Lowe presented a vBrownBag titled “Keeping Up With The Joneses“. He explained the various methods he uses to ensure all tasks, responsibilities and actions are dealt with efficiently. One of the main things that people grabbed hold of (and subsequently discussed on twitter) was “Achieving #InboxZero”. Although this was of interest to me I knew I needed to go deeper than that, the inbox wasn’t my main source of pain.

In December last year, Scott Lowe presented a vBrownBag titled “Keeping Up With The Joneses“. He explained the various methods he uses to ensure all tasks, responsibilities and actions are dealt with efficiently. One of the main things that people grabbed hold of (and subsequently discussed on twitter) was “Achieving #InboxZero”. Although this was of interest to me I knew I needed to go deeper than that, the inbox wasn’t my main source of pain.

As suggested by Scott, developing a trusted systemis important, as the ability to offload  tasks to a system and not hold them resident, helps bring clarity to your mind. I already used Evernote to take notes when talking with customers, but I never really used it as a “task” or “todo” list.

This year my list of things to be done has increased substantially, with a 6-9 month project taking nearly all of my time (outside of work and family commitments). I’ve made a point of trying new things that may increase my efficiency and I thought I would share some of the results.

Tools

Over the coming weeks I’ll explain how I’m using each tool in my process / system. Keep in mind I will probably refine and change things as I go, some of these tools I’m still experimenting with. As with most geeks, I like to tinker, but I’ll try to say why something does or doesn’t particularly work for me.

I’d love to hear any feedback or comments. What’s your secret to efficiency?

VMware Study Guides

I’ve added a section called “Education” which lists the vBrownBag study guides in a nice easy to reference list and, where applicable, mapped them to their respective exam blueprint.

VCP5 Study Guide

VCAP5-DCA Study Guide

VCAP5-DCD Study Guide

VCDX Boot Camp

We are constantly adding to the vBrownBag resource library, so if you’re not part of the weekly webinar, head over and sign up! (or catch them on iTunes)

Sydney VMUG Conference

Earlier this month I was invited to speak at the Sydney VMUG Conference where over 200 people came to hear the likes of Stephen FoskettMike Laverick, Alastair Cooke and  others speak about a range of different topics. I wanted to thank Mark Iveli for the invitation and for hosting a great day.

The session I presented was around “Best Practices and Right Sizing”, the slides are available here and the video is embedded below.

RE: The Changing Role of the VMware Admin

I found myself in an interesting discussion on Twitter the other night around the evolution of the VMware administrator. Chris Colotti then posted this blog. So I thought I would chime in with my 2 cents.

I started out, very much like Chris, as a Windows Administrator that learnt about virtualization. In a way I was lucky, our team was small, so I was exposed to everything from server and datacenter administration, to “basic” network and storage. On the other hand I was also unlucky, as it meant I couldn’t get deep into the technology I was working on. As soon as one problem was solved my priorities were invariably changed onto the next pressing need. A word to describe my life as an admin was “reactive”.

My Take

Without a doubt, within bigger teams more silos exist. This has been the case for years, and it will be for years to come. Bigger environments need more “specialists” to keep things ticking along. An admin this is “siloed” into an area of responsibility has the ability to specialise, but I have found that they often start to ignore the bigger picture too. 

So to link this back to the original conversation…

Rob Quast @robertquast: “@scott_lowe @ccolotti I think “generally” the concepts of GRE and networking encapsulation are foreign to VMware admin’s

As we head further into the “virtual” future, new technologies are coming out and things are getting more “complex”… or are they? Don’t get me wrong, when new technologies come along they can look complex but I believe once they become the norm, they are not so intimidating. I think it’s a lack of BASE virtualization experience in the other silos that is the real problem. A question to ponder… Should there really be generic “Virtualization Admins” or should all IT admins understand virtualization to a certain point?

To put a different spin on it, as we go forward and abstract / virtualize / “software define” more components of the data center, admins from ALL areas will need to understand how virtualisation works and fits into their respective area. Too many times  the “virtualization admin” has to be the mediator between the other teams to get the job done. Is this because other silos are more “pure” or is it because virtualization admins have a greater understanding on the whole stack… or is it just because they are the new kids on the block?

Advise

What I would like to see is IT organizations realizing that virtualization isn’t another silo that they need to manage like storage or networking. Virtualization is becoming pervasive into EVERY silo. If you’re a siloed admin that does not use virtualization often I suggest you educate yourself. As the industry defines more datacenter components in software you WILL need skills in this area!