Apr 172018
 

With the news of VMware vSphere 6.7 being released today, a lot of you are looking for the download links for the 6.7 download (including vSphere 6.7, ESXi 6.7, etc…). I couldn’t find it myself, but after doing some scouring through alternative URLs, I came across the link.

VMware vSphere 6.7 Download

VMware vSphere 6.7 Download Link

Here’s the link: https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/info/slug/datacenter_cloud_infrastructure/vmware_vsphere/6_7

HPe Specific (HPe Customization for ESXi) Version 6.7 is available at: https://www.hpe.com/us/en/servers/hpe-esxi.html

Unfortunately the page is blank at the moment, however you can bet the download and product listing will be added shortly!

UPDATE 10:15AM MST: The Download link is now live!

More information on the release of vSphere 6.7 can be found here, here, here, here, here, and here.

 

Happy Virtualizing!

Feb 222018
 
HPe MSA 2040 SAN

There’s a new and easier way to find the latest firmware for your HPe MSA SAN!

A new website setup by HPe allows you to find the latest firmware for your HPe MSA 2050/2052, MSA 1050, MSA 2040/2042/1040, and/or MSA P2000 G3. This site will include the last 3 generations of SANs in the MSA product line.

You can find the firmware download site at: https://hpe.com/storage/MSAFirmware

Hewlett Packard Enterprise was also nice enough for provide a brief video on how to navigate and use the page as well. Please see below:

Leave your feedback!

Jan 292018
 
Microsoft Azure AD Connect Agent Updater

I’m writing today to share about an experience I had hours ago, where the Microsoft Azure AD Connect software (specifically the Azure AD Connect Agent Updater) actually updated itself, and restarted the server it’s installed on, all during production hours.

Pretty serious stuff hey?

It all happened around 12:50PM (Mountain Time)… I received a notification that a service had been marked as failed on the particular server (notification from my monitoring/management system), and I went to investigate. I noticed that the server was actually gracefully restarted. After logging in, I came across these event logs.

Event ID 34004

Event ID 1074

Both Event ID 34004 and Event ID 1074 were logged, reporting both that it had downloaded an update, installed, and the installer initiated a restart.

I thought: no way should auto-updating be enabled, and I still can’t actually confirm it either. I found this article which explains of an automatic update feature:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/active-directory/connect/active-directory-aadconnect-feature-automatic-upgrade

However, not only did I not meet the criteria of auto-update being enabled, but upon further investigation it was actually disabled by running the powershell command:

Get-ADSyncAutoUpgrade

As you can see below the command returned as “suspended”.

Get-ADSyncAutoUpgrade

After spending tons more time searching and not finding anything, I decided I’d just disable the service called “Microsoft Azure AD Connect Agent Updater”. In my environment it was running and set to “Automatic (Delayed)”, but I stopped the service and changed it to “Disabled”.

It’s not reflected in the picture below, but this is the service that was responsable for updating and restarting the server. Since I’ve stopped it, it appears everything is functioning correctly, except auto-updating.

Microsoft Azure AD Connect Agent Updater

Jan 262018
 
10ZiG 5948q Zero Client

In an effort to truly showcase the capabilities of VMware Horizon View and the 10ZiG 5948q Zero Client, I wanted to put together a demo showing the ability to run Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL 7.4) in a VDI environment.

First and foremost, this was super easy to setup. It was almost too easy…

Please see below for video:

You’ll notice during login that after the credential prompt multiple desktops were available (we chose to log on to the RHEL instance) to choose from. You’ll see further on in the video versioning and specifications as well as video playback. Again, please note that my environment does not have any GPU or 3D rendering.

Please Note: The momentary black border on the bottom right side during login, was due to a resolution change on the VDI session. This was the first time logging in with this client, and the border doesn’t normally occur unless changing resolutions.

Equipment/Software used in this demo:

Please note, my company Digitally Accurate Inc, is a VMware Solution Provider Partner, 10ZiG Partner, and Red Hat Ready Business partner. Please don’t hesitate in reaching out for anything VDI! We design, sell, implement, and support VMware and VDI environments!

Jan 212018
 
Azure AD

This weekend I configured Azure AD Connect for pass through authentication for my on-premise Active Directory domain. This was a first for me and extremely easy to do, however there was a few issues with my firewall and SSL content filtering and scanning rules which was blocking the connection. I figured I’d create a post providing some information you’ll need to get this setup and running quickly.

In my environment, I have a Sophos UTM firewall which provides firewall services (port blocking), as well as HTTP and HTTPs scanning and filtering (web filtering).

The Problem

After running the Azure AD Connect wizard, all went good however there was an error at the end of the wizard notifying that synchronization was configured but is not occurring due to firewall. It provided a link for more information (that actually didn’t really contain the information needed).

While this issue is occurring, you’ll notice:

-Azure AD Connect in the Azure portal is reporting that pass-through authentication is Enabled, however after expanding the item, the Authentication Agent reports a status of Inactive on your internal domain controllers.

-In the Event log, under “Applications and Services Logs”, then “Microsoft”, then “AzureADConnect”, then “AuthenticationAgent”, and finally “Admin”, you’ll see the following error event:

Event ID: 12019

Source: Microsoft Azure AD Connect Authentication Agent (Microsoft-AzureADConnect-AuthenticationAgent)

Event:
The Connector stopped working because the client certificate is not valid. Uninstall the Connector and install it again. Request ID: '{WAJAJAJA-OHYA-YAAA-YAAAA-WAKAKAKAKAKAKAK}'

This event log above is due to the SSL and HTTPs content filtering.

-Azure Pass-Through authentication won’t work

The Fix

After doing some research, I came up with the following list of ports and hosts you’ll need to allow unfiltered to a specific list of hosts.

Ports

The following ports are used by Azure AD Connect:

Port 443 – SSL

Port 5671 – TCP (From the host running the Azure AD Connect to Internet)

Hosts (DNS Hosts)

Here’s the host list:

*blob.core.windows.net
*servicebus.windows.net
*adhybridhealth.azure.com
*management.azure.com
*policykeyservice.dc.ad.msft.net
*login.windows.net
*login.microsoftonline.com
*secure.aadcdn.microsoftonline-p.com
*microsoftonline.com
*windows.net
*msappproxy.net
*mscrl.microsoft.com
*crl.microsoft.com
*ocsp.msocsp.com
*www.microsoft.com

If you’re running a Sophos UTM like I am, you’ll need to create an HTTP(s) scanning exception and then import this list in to a rule “Matching these URLs”:

^https?://([A-Za-z0-9.-]*\.)?blob.core.windows.net/
^https?://([A-Za-z0-9.-]*\.)?servicebus.windows.net/
^https?://([A-Za-z0-9.-]*\.)?adhybridhealth.azure.com/
^https?://([A-Za-z0-9.-]*\.)?management.azure.com/
^https?://([A-Za-z0-9.-]*\.)?policykeyservice.dc.ad.msft.net/
^https?://([A-Za-z0-9.-]*\.)?login.windows.net/
^https?://([A-Za-z0-9.-]*\.)?login.microsoftonline.com/
^https?://([A-Za-z0-9.-]*\.)?secure.aadcdn.microsoftonline-p.com/
^https?://([A-Za-z0-9.-]*\.)?microsoftonline.com/
^https?://([A-Za-z0-9.-]*\.)?windows.net/
^https?://([A-Za-z0-9.-]*\.)?msappproxy.net/
^https?://([A-Za-z0-9.-]*\.)?mscrl.microsoft.com/
^https?://([A-Za-z0-9.-]*\.)?crl.microsoft.com/
^https?://([A-Za-z0-9.-]*\.)?ocsp.msocsp.com/
^https?://([A-Za-z0-9.-]*\.)?www.microsoft.com/

The exception I created skips:

  • Authentication
  • Caching
  • Antivirus
  • Extension Blocking
  • MIME type blocking
  • URL Filter
  • Content Removal
  • SSL Scanning
  • Certificate trust check
  • Certificate date check

After creating the exceptions, I restarted the “Microsoft Azure AD Connect Authentication Agent”. The errors stopped and Azure AD Pass-through started to function correctly! Also the status of the Authentication Agent now reports a status of active.

Jan 202018
 
10ZiG 5948q Zero Client

As promised in my previous post which covered my first impressions, here are some pictures and video of the 10ZiG 5948q zero client in action! In the videos I demonstrate video playback as well as the USB redirection capabilities of the 10ZiG Zero Client and VMware Horizon View. Scroll down to the bottom for videos!

Pictures

10ZiG 5948q Zero Client

10ZiG 5948q Zero Client

 

10ZiG 5948qv Zero Client VMware Horizon View

10ZiG 5948qv Zero Client VMware Horizon View

 

10ZiG 5900 Series Zero Client VMware Horizon View Login

10ZiG 5900 Series Zero Client VMware Horizon View Login

 

10ZiG 5948q Series Zero Client Configuration Menu

10ZiG 5948q Series Zero Client Configuration Menu

 

Videos

In this video, I demonstrate the capability of the 10ZiG 5948q zero client connected to a VMware Horizon View server (via a Unified Access Gateway) playing a video from YouTube. Please note that the ESXi server does not have a GPU and 3D rendering is disabled for the test (this is as low performance as it gets).

In this video, I demonstrate the capability of the 10ZiG 5948q zero client using USB redirection on a live VDI session.

And finally, here’s a video of a 10ZiG zero client cold boot for those that are interested.

And remember, my company Digitally Accurate Inc. is a VMware Solutions Provider and 10ZiG Partner. I’m also regularly posting content on these on the corporate blog as well!

Jan 202018
 
10ZiG 5948q Zero Client

It’s an exciting weekend as I got my hands on 2 new 10ZiG 5948q Series Zero Clients (the 10ZiG 5948qv to be exact). My company Digitally Accurate Inc. in Calgary, Alberta purchased these for internal testing and demo purposes since we sell VMware VDI solutions. I figured I’d do a brief post to offer my first impressions, offer a few pictures, as well as a brief write up.

UPDATED POST – More pictures and videos can be found on a new post here!

For a brief backstory, zero clients are used for environments and businesses that use desktop virtualization (VDI) instead of traditional computers. This means that an employee won’t actually have a computer, instead they will be using a zero client which relays video/keyboard/mouse (it’s actually more complicated than that, lol) to a desktop computer that’s virtualized on a server (either in the cloud, data center, or on-premise). This allows the company to save on hardware, provide better performance to end users, and really simplify a big portion of the IT landscape.

I’m a big fan of VDI, particularly the VMware Horizon View product. My company has a full demo/test VDI environment we have available to showcase this technology.

What’s really awesome is that you don’t necesarily even need to use a zero client. You could instead use an old netbook, laptop, computer, or even a cellphone to connect to these virtualized desktops using the VMware Horizon View client.

The next question you may be asking, is what about graphics quality? Well, you can implement special graphics cards to virtualize GPUs (such as the AMD FirePro MxGPU class of cards) and provide high end graphical capabilities to your users.

In my deployment we’ve been using software based VDI clients, but it was time to get our hands dirty with some zero clients. We decided to partner up with 10ZiG, and order a couple of these units for internal and demo purposes.

 

Now let’s get started!

10ZiG 5948q Zero Client

10ZiG 5948 Zero Client

The 5948q series is part of 10ZiG’s power class of zero clients. This bad boy is the latest and greatest model and supports 3 displays (yup, that’s right) and 4K UHD resolutions. The hardware itself is based off an Intel Braswell (refreshed version) CPU. The device has 1 HDMI port, as well as 2 DisplayPort connections. It also has a microphone, audio line out,  and a ton of USB ports (including both USB2 and USB3) for USB redirection. You can choose from 4GB or 8GB RAM configurations.

The 5948q runs off 10ZiG’s NOS operation system. This is a compact and lightweight operating system that includes the VMware Horizon View client, as well as all the configuration utilities you’ll need to get up and running (as well as troubleshoot the device if needed).

When I received the first two units, I noticed that the boxes were very heavy (I was actually really surprised).

10ZiG 5900q Series Zero Client Box Shot

10ZiG 5900q Series Zero Client Box Shot

 

10ZiG 5948q Series Zero Client Box Shot

10ZiG 5948q Series Zero Client Box Shot

 

The packaging was very nice, and the contents were safely secured with proper cardboard spacers to avoid items shifting during transport.

Finally it was time to take the zero client out! It is a very sleek, and very well put together device (I was actually surprised). As mentioned, it has some weight to it. It just looks great…

10ZiG 5948q Zero Client

 

The bottom of the device swivels and turns to expose 2 hidden USB ports which can be used for any type of USB device. The device also has 2 x USB3.0 ports on the front, an additional 1 x USB2.0 on the front, and 2 x USB2.0 ports on the back.

Plugging in the device and turning it on, it brings you to a big 10ZiG splash image and then on to first time configuration. In the first time configuration you specify your locale and region settings, date and time, and others. One problem I came across, is that when choosing Canada, it defaulted the keyboard to French for some reason. I actually didn’t even realize this until later when trying to log in to my VDI session (it was registering the wrong characters when pressing keys) and rejecting my password. It actually took me over an hour to realize this when I finally started poking around in the console and noticed that the “/” key was triggering an entirely different character. Changing the keyboard to US English fixed this (although in my opinion it should have been the default).

Moving on…

After the first time setup is complete, the interface is very simple yet powerful. You can configure your VMware View Connection Server address (and properties for the connection), as well as all the hardware components of the zero client, this includes: Network, Display, Mouse, Keyboard, USB devices, printers, etc…

After specifying my View connection server and then leaving the control panel, I logged in to my VDI session and it worked great!

Initially I tested some videos on YouTube, which looked great, and then moved on to trying some other things that involved audio and all was perfect. This product was production ready! I also tested the USB redirection by connecting a USB thumb flash drive to a USB port. The Windows 10 VM detected the USB drive, and I was able to partition, format, and use the stick without any problems. Initial testing resulted in 4MB/sec USB redirection speeds.

I’m really hoping that when my budget permits, I can purchase an AMD MxGPU S7150 card so I can test the 10ZiG with some high performance graphic applications. In the meantime though, this works great!

 

Now before I leave you, there are two important things I want to mention:

  1. The 10ZiG zero clients can be completely centrally managed and provisioned by the 10ZiG Manager, which is completely free if you own the products. You’d use this to deploy many zero clients (hundreds, thousands, etc…) in large scale deployments.
  2. You can use the 10ZiG Manager to reflash the firmware of the devices and use them for different desktop virtualization platforms including Citrix XenDesktop, and Microsoft VDI over RDP using Remote Desktop Services (RDS).

 

All in all, I’m very impressed with the device and have absolutely no complaints. I’ll be doing some more write ups and videos on the device soon! Stay posted!

Jan 182018
 

The Problem

I run a Sophos UTM firewall appliance in my VMware vSphere environment and noticed the other day that I was getting warnings on the space used on the ESXi host for the thin-provisioned vmdk file for the guest VM. I thought “Hey, this is weird”, so I enabled SSH and logged in to check my volumes. Everything looked fine and my disk usage was great! So what gives?

After spending some more time troubleshooting and not finding much, I thought to myself “What if it’s not unmapping unused blocks from the vmdk to the host ESXi machine?”. What is unampping you ask? When files get deleted in a guest VM, the free blocks aren’t automatically “unmapped” and released back to the host hypervisor in some cases.

Two things need to happen:

  1. The guest VM has to release these blocks (notify the hypervisor that it’s not using them, making the vmdk smaller)
  2. The host has to reclaim these and issue the unmap command to the storage (freeing up the space on the SAN/storage itself)

On a side note: In ESXi 6.5 and when using VMFS version 6 (VMFS6), the datastores can be configured for automatic unmapping. You can still kick it off manually, but many administrators would prefer it to happen automatically in the background with low priority (low I/O).

Most of my guest VMs automatically do the first step (releasing the blocks back to the host). On Windows this occurs with the defrag utility which issues trim commands and “trims” the volumes. On linux this occurs with the fstrim command. All my guest VMs do this automatically with the exception being the Sophos UTM appliance.

The fix

First, a warning: Enable SSH on the Sophos UTM at your own risk. You need to know what you are doing, this also may pose a security risk and should be disabled once your are finished. You’ll need to “su” to root once you log in with the “loginuser” account.

This fix not only applies to the Sophos UTM, but most other linux based guest virtual machines.

Now to fix the issue, I used the “df” command which provides a list of the filesystems, their mount points, and storage free for those fileystems. I’ve included an example below (this wasn’t the full list):

hostname:/root # df
Filesystem                       1K-blocks     Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda6                          5412452  2832960   2281512  56% /
udev                               3059712       72   3059640   1% /dev
tmpfs                              3059712      100   3059612   1% /dev/shm
/dev/sda1                           338875    15755    301104   5% /boot
/dev/sda5                         98447760 13659464  79513880  15% /var/storage
/dev/sda7                        129002700  4624468 117474220   4% /var/log
/dev/sda8                          5284460   274992   4717988   6% /tmp
/dev                               3059712       72   3059640   1% /var/storage/chroot-clientlessvpn/dev


You’ll need to run the fstrim command on every mountpoint for file systems “/dev/sdaX” (X means you’ll be doing this for multiple mountpoints). In the example above, you’ll need to run it on “/”, “/boot”, “/var/storage”, “/var/log”, “/tmp”, and any other mountpoints that use “/dev/sdaX” filesytems.

Two examples:

fstrim / -v

fstrim / -v

 

 

fstrim /var/storage -v

fstrim /var/storage -v

 

 

Again, you’ll repeat this for all mount points for your /dev/sdaX storage (X is replaced with the volume number). The command above only works with mountpoints, and not the actual device mappings.

Time to release the unused blocks to the SAN:

The above completes the first step of releasing the storage back to the host. Now you can either let the automatic unmap occur slowly overtime if you’re using VMFS6, or you can manually kick it off. I decided to manually kick it off using the steps I have listed at: https://www.stephenwagner.com/2017/02/07/vmfs-unmap-command-on-vsphere-6-5-with-vmfs-6-runs-repeatedly/

You’ll need to use esxcli to do this. I simply enabled SSH on my ESXi hosts temporarily.

Please note: Using the unmap command on ESXi hosts is very storage I/O intensive. Do this during maintenance window, or at a time of low I/O as this will perform MAJOR I/O on your hosts…

I issue the command (replace “DATASTORENAME” with the name of your datastore):

esxcli storage vmfs unmap --volume-label=DATASTORENAME --reclaim-unit=8

This could run for hours, possibly days depending on your “reclaim-unit” size (this is the block size of the unit you’re trying to reclaim from the VMFS file-system). In this example I choose 8, but most people do something larger like 100, or 200 to reduce the load and time for the command to complete (lower values look for smaller chunks of free space, so the command takes longer to execute).

I let this run for 2 hours on a 10TB datastore, however it may take way longer (possibly 6+ hours, to days).

Finally, not only are we are left with a smaller vmdk file, but we’ve released the space back to the SAN as well!

Jan 142018
 

The Problem

In the latest updates and versions of Microsoft Office 2016, I found a bug where when a user adds a new on-premise Microsoft Exchange 2016 account, it will repeatedly prompt for a username and password and ultimately fail if you hit cancel (no matter how many times you enter credentials). This was on the internal LAN on a domain joined workstation.

I did the usual checks:

  • Check Virtualdirectory configuration on Exchange
  • Check Virtualdirectory configuration on IIS (Internet Information Services)
  • Check Autodiscover DNS entries, InternalURL and ExternalURL configuration
  • Check for SCP inside of domain

All the of the above came back fine and were configured properly.

I have numerous other Outlook 2016 clients configured and working (installed as older versions, but have been updated), so I used those to troubleshoot (same scenario, domain joined on internal LAN and external WAN). After spending 10 hours ripping apart everything, confirming configuration, I noticed that when using the “Test Email Autoconfiguration…” (holding CTRL while right clicking on Outlook tray icon), that the e-mail clients had a skewed order for checking autodiscovery.

The e-mail clients were actually trying to authenticate with Office365 before my own on-premise Exchange Server (domain SCP or autodiscover records). This is absolutely bizarre! After spending 2 hours googling (I couldn’t find anything), I finally stumbled across this document and found an interesting piece of information:

https://support.microsoft.com/en-ca/help/3211279/outlook-2016-implementation-of-autodiscover

“Outlook uses a set of heuristics to determine whether the user account provided comes from Office 365. If Outlook determines confidently that you are an O365 user, a try is made to retrieve the Autodiscover payload from the known O365 endpoints (typically https://autodiscover-s.outlook.com/autodiscover/autodiscover.xml or https://autodiscover-s.partner.outlook.cn/autodiscover/autodiscover.xml). If this step does not retrieve a payload, Outlook moves to step 5.”

WTF?!?!?

So while this doesn’t explain why this happened, it explains what’s happening. I believe this is what’s happening as my working clients are trying to Autodisocver with Office365 first…

I went ahead an created a registry value to control the policy for “ExcludeExplicitO365Endpoint“. After configuring the registry key, I noticed that Autodiscover was now functioning properly and checking SCP and autodiscover DNS records first. I have no idea why the “heuristics” determined I was an Office365 user, but I’m not (I do have access to Office365 as a partner, but don’t use it and don’t have it configured). This may effect other partners, or users that utilize some O365 services…

The Fix

To fix this issue, create a text file and copy/paste this text below.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Outlook\AutoDiscover]
"ExcludeExplicitO365Endpoint"=dword:00000001

Then save it, and rename it as ExcludeExplicitO365Endpoint.reg and run it (this will import the applicable registry key). ONLY DO THIS if you are using an Exchange On-Premise account, and not a Office365 or hosted exchange account.

After this, the issue was completely fixed. If you know what you’re doing, you can also use Outlook GPO settings and deploy this to a vast number of systems using Group Policy.

Jan 092018
 
HPe iLo Registered to Remote Support Insight Online

Many months ago, I configured the HPe Insight Online – Direct Connect on all my HPe Proliant DL360p Gen8 servers running VMware vSphere 6.5. This service is available with active support contracts (warranties), and allows your servers to “phone home” to HPe for free. This allows service and health information to be broadcast to your HPe passport and support account, to pro-actively manage, monitor, and maintain your servers. Information on the service can be found at https://www.hpe.com/ca/en/services/remote-it-support.html.

This is all pretty cool, but does it work? Read below!

I woke up this morning to notifications from my own monitoring system that a fan failure had occurred on one of my HPe Proliant server ESXi hosts. All my servers have fan redundancy so the server continued to run without problems. Scrolling through my other overnight e-mails, I also see e-mails from HPe acknowledging a support case that I had created. I had long since forgot that I configured Insight Online direct connect, so it actually took a few minutes for me to put two and two together. The server by itself took care of everything!

After reviewing all these e-mails, logging in to the HPe support portal, I had realized that the server by itself had:

  1. Identified a fan failure
  2. Sent diagnostic data off to HPe support
  3. Created an HPe support ticket and case
  4. HPe support engineers looked up the serial and part number of the server, and assigned a replacement part for the fan to be dispatched to me

I called in to HPe support, mentioned this was the first time this had ever happened and asked if there was anything additional I needed to provide. All the engineer asked, was whether I wanted an engineer to replace the part, or if I was comfortable replacing the part myself (of course I want to replace it myself). That was it!

This is VERY interesting and cool technology. I can see this being extremely valuable for customers who have 4 hour response contracts with their HPe equipment.

I’ve provided some screenshots below to show the process.

HPe Case Management E-Mail

HPe iLo Registered to Remote Support Insight Online

eRS Active Health Report Sent

HPe Remote Support Direct Connect Service Event

HPe Insight Online Automated Case