Recent Life Changes and EMC

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog, but I plan to update it on a regular basis now. Some major life changes have occurred for me over the time my last post was made. I have left my job at the community bank for which I was a systems administrator for and have joined the “storage guys” over at EMC! Currently, I am in Franklin, MA for EMC Global Services Associate Program (GSAP) training for an Associate Implementation Specialist (AIS) role. Just in the two days alone, I’ve realized just how big EMC, as a company, really is with new trainees flying in from all around the world. Also, the company demonstrates their commitment to the employee with the in-detail Myers Briggs Type Indicator personality training we received on the second day. They truly want you to understand yourself as a person and how to interact with others in your day-to-day interactions with customers and other employees. So far, I’m thoroughly impressed with the company, it’s dedication to their employees, and the passion for technology and storage!

The Ability to Think on Your Feet

Do you remember the scene from Apollo 13 where the NASA technicians were given the task of fixing the CO2 issue for the astronauts aboard the Apollo 13 using only the equipment they had in the space shuttle (a box, air filter, plastic bag, and duct tape)? Here’s the scene in case you haven’t seen it:

The ability to think quickly on your feet is crucial especially when under pressure and stress to deliver a fix in a certain time. Let me fill you in on how my Monday went.

I came in this morning and was immediately told that a Domain Controller/File Server at our office in Northern Virginia was offline. Sounds like a simple enough fix right? Get someone to power it on or remote into the Management Port (iLO2) and send the power on signal… tried that, but didn’t work. Instead a red health indicator LED flashed whenever the power button was pressed. Not cool! To top off the issue, this server also manages DHCP and the leases just coincidentally happened to expire for more than half of the users at this location… great…

After bouncing a few ideas off of my teammates, I came up with the idea of enabling DHCP on the switch stack at that location. Success! User’s were now able to obtain an IP address and access the company network/internet. As for the file server issue, once I arrived on-site with a server replacement I noticed that the hard drives in the current server were bigger (not in GB size, but in actual width and height).

The replacement server I brought with me was the EXACT same model as the server on-site that was down? This question may never be answered. Before I gave up all hope of repairing the issue on the same day, a light bulb turned on and the solution presented itself. I took the entire HDD enclosure bay out of the bad server, and placed it in the new server. I prayed for driver compatibility and on-board RAID management to successfully work when powering on this server and it did. After successfully logging into the server, verifying access to all drives and files, and ensuring DHCP was working on the server, I was able to stand down the temporary fix I implemented by enabling DHCP on the switch. I sent a quick email to the office asking users to reboot their PCs so access to their files could be restored and to retrieve a proper IP addressed issued through DHCP on the server. Once that task was done, I verified that everything was restored back to normal.

The ability to quickly think on my feet and common sense saved me. The resolution took about 3 hours and users were only partially impacted by not having access to their files. These victories give me a sense of accomplishment and further fuel my passion for the I.T. field!

Creating an Automated Server Disk Space Report

Difficulty: Intermediate

This guide will teach you how to take a powershell script, turn it into a scheduled task, and have the output of the script be emailed to you. The script I’m going to be demoing here is a simple disk space check that runs on a list of servers you define. For every server in the list with a drive that has less than 20% of storage left, the drive and amount of disk space left will be shown.

Before we begin working with the script, we must first prepare our server for powershell. Windows 2008 Server may already have powershell preinstalled. If it is, you will be able to find it in START > Accessories > Windows Powershell. If it is not there, then you will have to install it by going into control panel, programs and features, and turn windows features on or off, and enabling Windows Powershell.

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VMware ESXi 5 Whitebox

I just recently purchased a new PC which I have turned into my VMware ESXi 5.0 Whitebox. More posts to come soon as I prepare my virtual environment!

Gateway DX4860
Intel i5 processor
8GB RAM
1TB HDD

This screen shows the ESXi host management console. It’s a custom version of Linux designed by VMware to be a baremetal hypervisor and leave a minimal footprint on the host.

With the ESXi host prepared, we are now ready to navigate to the IP address of the host to install VMware Virtual Infrastructure Client on my laptop. This will be used to remotely manage the host and virtual machines.

This the welcome screen you receive when navigating the host’s IP address. On this page, vmWare provides you tools needed to remotely manage the ESXi host.


Using VMware Virtual Infrastructure client to access the host. I logged into the host using the root credentials, but once my servers are configured access will be delegated through Active Directory user accounts with the required security group privilege.

Preparing for Windows Server 2008 to be installed as a virtual machine. This will be my Primary Domain Controller on my network.

Installing Windows Server 2003. This will just be a member server on the domain and will have VMware virtual infrastructure client installed on it. That way, if I don’t have my primary Windows laptop I can still VPN back to that server and access the ESXi host using that virtual machine. This machine will also run automated tasks, scripts, and handle backups.

A quick view of the usage statistics with both virtual machines running.

Performing a Physical to Virtual Migration – Hot Migration

In this article, I will attempt to explain to the best of my ability how to perform a physical to virtual migration.

Pre-Requisites:

  • Knowledge of vmWare vSphere 4 and Virtual Infrastructure Client

Before we proceed, you will need to head over to http://www.vmware.com/products/converter/ and download the free vCenter Converter.

  1. Launch vCenter Converter
  2. Click “Convert Machine” located at the top left menu
  3. Fill in the info for your remote powered on machine. IP address will be the physical machine you wish to convert. Supply your administrative credentials for the username and password. (DOMAIN/USERNAME for username).
  4. Click “View source details”
  5. Choose to “Automatically uninstall the files when the import succeeds”
  6. Once the conversion prep is complete, you will receive a pop-up displaying the information gathered from the physical machine. Click close on this window.
  7. Click next and you will be taken to the destination screen. This is where you will tell it to go to your Virtual Infrastructure. The “server name” will be your vCenter server. For username and password, supply your administrative credentials. (DOMAIN\USERNAME for username).
  8. Click next and you will be asked to name your newly created VM. I have a naming scheme in place for certain types of servers. (Example: SERVER_NAME_nfs for file servers and SERVER_NAME_bdc for domain controllers).
  9. Click next and select which Host in your Cluster you wish for this vm and also on the right hand side select which datastore you would like to use to store this VM.
  10. Click next and verify the settings for this VM. Make any needed adjustments here before proceeding. (Example: I needed to make a change on the diskspace on the last P2V I did. The physical machine C: drive was 279GB and I wanted it to be 250GB since I had a decent amount of space unused on the drive and don’t plan to go past 250GB with it anytime soon). Also make sure the number of vCPUs and amount of RAM is set to your liking.

  11. Click next then finish. The conversion task will begin so sit back, grab a cold soda and wait for it to complete!

Use Ubuntu as a Mac File Server or Time Machine Volume

Recently, I came across this amazing article that shows you how to turn your Ubuntu desktop/server into a Mac File Server or Time Machine volume. Not only does it allow you to share files between the two computers, but it will also automatically mount your Time Machine volume and begin the backup process. I have followed this article and am currently using this setup on my home network. If you have any questions about this article or need help, please post it in the comments.

Click here to read the article!