Tag Archives: Automation

Embrace the “New Normal”

“The only constant in life is change” -Heraclitus

Being in IT for 15+ years I have seen many things change from 3.5″ floppy discs to 64 GB microSD cards and from the Intel i486 processor to ARM Coretx-A72 processors found in Raspberry Pis. To take it a step further, my foray into IT was more of a trial by fire than a chosen profession. Back in my college days I worked for a small start up as a project manager for a call center that provided customer support and telesales. Due to our size, we all filled many roles and as we on-boarded handfuls of new reps every few weeks, yours truly was responsible for setting up PCs. That means physically setting them up to use….not configuring roaming profiles or any type of OS configuration. I mean plugging in keyboards, mice, and monitors via PS/2 and VGA connectors. I still to this day don’t know why I chose the path that I did but there was something about tearing things down and rebuilding them that peaked my interest. Due to our size and budget, there were several occasions where we cannibalized two mediocre PCs to create one that was one step above mediocre. Fast forward a few years and I’m CompTia A+and Network+ certified working my way towards a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE).

Why do I bring this all up? First, the best way to further your IT career is to be curious. Second, as I have been working with several enterprise and commercial customers over the past six years, I see the need for VI administrators and system administrators to rapidly expand their skill sets to remain relevant and valued within the organization.

Scripting

I will be the first to admit that I am not a developer. With a heavy windows background, I have always preferred a GUI since lines reading lines of code was very foreign to me. That being said, as I grew more comfortable with system administration via Windows, I became more curious around how I could automate more of my daily tasks via scripts…enter the login.bat file for Windows user profiles! While it wasn’t exactly complex, it still gave me an entry point to learn how to automate small processes that saved me a lot of time. Hopefully most of us rely heavily on scripts and are using tools such as PowerShell. If you aren’t, you should!

With my Windows background, CLI based operating systems such as Linux and IOS scared me to death! I had no idea how to start and the closest thing I could compare it to was MS-DOS back in my early gaming days when the original King’s Quest was released. It wasn’t until working with ESX, Cisco, and OpenBSD for customer projects where I started facing my insecurities around CLI and discovered it wasn’t as intimidating as I once thought. While I don’t think I will ever be a developer or coder, I can unequivocally state that getting comfortable with CLIs within ESXi and NSX is a MUST for any VI admin. My first recommendation is to head over to VMware {code} and get started with PowerCLI! Once you become more familiar with PowerCLI, don’t spend all of your time writing your own scripts. PowerCLI guru Alan Renouf has a litany of scripts that may be of benefit. He has created scripts for VMs, Storage, Hosts, reporting and more!

APIs

Application Programming Interface (API) is quickly becoming a necessary skill set for any administrator or engineer. Being able make API calls (requests) to applications and services takes the ability to programmatically administer environments to another level. Over the past several years, VMware has worked hard to create REST (REpresentational State Transfer) APIs to allow developers and VI admins alike to better automate on several levels. In addition, there are some features with VMware services that can only be done via API or are released in the API first and then the GUI follows. A full list of VMware APIs can be found here. If you come from an operations background like me, you may prefer a GUI tool to assist when getting started with APIs. I have found Postman to be beneficial. To get things started, I have included two videos that should help get you started. The first is a vBrownBag session from Kyle Ruddy who walks through vSphere APIs with Postman.

The second is an introduction VMware Cloud on AWS.

Leveraging APIs are the new normal. If you are a VMware Cloud on AWS customer, take time to dig into the Developer Center and start playing with the API explorer and Code Samples! Two more great resources for leveraging VMware APIs are Patrick Kremer and William Lam. Truth be told, if there is an API question that I can’t answer, William always seems to have it!

VMware Cloud on AWS Developer Center

I am new-ish to this way of life but really enjoy learning new skills! If you are in tech, it’s a lifetime of learning so we all should embrace it with excitement. I hope to post more about my learnings and possibly even share some code samples but until then….click through all the links above and get started!!!

AWS re:Invent 2018 – Takeaways

re:Invent 2018 was a week full of exciting announcements that kept me running from one session to another as well as took me out of my comfort zone as a technologist. There was so much going on that it was difficult to digest every session let alone keep up with all of the services and industries that AWS is in. However, these are my takeaways…..

  1. The AWS-VMware partnership runs deep! As previously mentioned, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger was the only other CEO to join Andy Jassey on stage during his keynote where they announced AWS Outposts. I’m excited to see how customers use the service and the use cases behind them. In addition to the keynote, the VMware Code booth was busy from opening to close as we covered IoT (Raspberry Pi with sensors), Wavefront, VMware Cloud on AWS, and more. It was great to see so much activity and help customers realize that VMware is heavily invested in the cloud and can bring immediate value as customers continue to develop their cloud strategy.
  2. If you haven’t heard the words, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Reinforced Learning, or Neural Networks….you WILL!! With services like SageMaker, RoboMaker, DeepRacer, DeepLens, Polly and more, intelligent software is here. From a VMware standpoint, we changed the SDDC acronym at VMworld 2018  from Software Driven Data Center to the Self Driving Data Center as we are working to build intelligent software in products such as vRealize Operations, NSX Data Center, and AppDefense as well as services like NSX Cloud and VMware Cloud on AWS. I would advise everyone to get a base understanding of AI and ML. It will benefit you greatly as skills will need to shift due to learning being built into software. I personally believe that things such as host and server configurations will be a thing of the past. Infrastructure as code is here and we all must learn to adapt. I recommend picking up Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artifical Intelligence by Ajay Argwal, Joshua Gans,  and Avi Goldfarb.
  3. Get outside your comfort zone! re:Invent hosts some of the smartest people I have ever been around. re:Invent is not the time to keep to yourself and only bounce from session to session. Go see the exhibit halls, demo booths and more. Although you may get your badge scanned countless times and receive pointless swag, you may come away with some valuable connections and insight. Take this amazing opportunity to grow your professional network!
  4. There is too much to learn in one week! Consider re:Invent a conference that you will never be able to attend every session you want. The sheer scale of this event makes getting to everything impossible. However, with YouTube at your fingertips, you have an opportunity to review sessions you attended as well as see some you may have missed.

I know this post is a little late. I have been wanting to post this for some time. re:Invent was awesome and I can’t wait to attend next year!