vExpert Slack – August 2016 Update


As the 2nd half 2016 vExpert announcements are due out on the 19th August I thought I’d better update my original vExpert post.

There are now 384 vExperts on the vExpert Slack and 31 channels covering topics from EUC to OpenStack and everything in between. We usually have around 150-200 vExperts active at anytime. It’s been great fun over the last year and the community is growing day by day. We now have 3 admins looking after the day to day running and I hope to add a forth in the next few weeks so we have someone around 24 hours a day.

To make the process for requesting an invite easier, I’ve created a Twitter account (vExpert Slack) which is monitored by the vExpert Slack admin team and you should get a response a lot quicker than emailing or tweeting me directly. We now have 3 admins looking after the day to day running and I hope to add a forth in the next few weeks so we have someone around 24 hours a day.

When requesting an invite please can you DM (DM’s are open and don’t require the account to follow you) a link to your vExpert profile and the email address you would like the invite sending to. This will save a lot of time and allow us to get an invite out to you as soon as possible. If you don’t get a response within 48 hours please drop me a message. Unfortunately, the vExpert Slack is only open to current vExperts and VCDX.

Cloud Insiders Podcast


This week saw the launch of Cloud Insiders, a podcast that brings the cloud down to earth. Backed by leading cloud and virtualisation solution provider Xtravirt, Cloud Insiders will explore the IT transformation issues facing today’s organisations, and the technology solutions that have been developed to help them.

As an independent partner engaged in IT transformation projects, Xtravirt saw the need for a forum to provide high level discussion and insights available via a podcast to those who make decisions around technology and need to learn quickly.

Cloud Insiders will provide thought-provoking insights into trends facing the cloud computing and virtualisation arena, as observed by industry experts.

The first episode of the podcast went live on 11 May and features guest speaker Peter Grant (Xtravirt CTO) answering ‘Cloud: Does it hold water?’ This inaugural episode covers the business drivers leading to cloud computing, caveats to avoid and trends Peter is seeing in the adoption of cloud into global IT.

I’ll be featuring on the second episode “I’m too NSXY for my shirt” along with Xtravirt’s Technical Presales Consulant, Andy Hind. We will be discussing NSX and how it effects the future of everything and what we predict will happen with SDN.

In addition to Peter, Andy & myself, a number of guests are already lined up to contribute to future episodes which will be released over the coming weeks.

Cloud Insiders brings an exciting concept to the IT community: a platform for users, vendors and industry experts to debate and explore the issues and technologies that are shaping the way we deliver IT.

The podcast is being made available through iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play.

Show notes and free resources will also be available at

North East VMUG – Thursday 25th February


I will be speaking at the North East VMware User Group on Thursday 25th February in Newcastle along with Marco Van Baggum from ITQ in the Netherlands. We will be presenting “NSX In The Real World”, where we will talk about how we have deployed NSX in production environments over the last 6 months and any issues we have encountered and answer any questions.

We will be speaking alongside Joe Baguley, Chief Technical Officer for VMware EMEA, who will be delivering the keynote and Duncan Epping, VMWare Chief Technologist – Storage and
Availability, who will be talking about Virtual SAN. Kyle Jenner from SITS Group will also be delivering a session on the importance of a VDI assessment for an accurate design and ultimately a successful project.

Tegile, 10Zig and Simplivity are sponsoring the event and there will be vBeers after at Centurion Bar.

The event will take place at Campus North:

Campus North
Sunco House
5 Carliol Square
Newcastle, Tyne and Wear


Public CA certificates with Internal Server Names & IP Addresses


While working on a recent engagement I had a discussion with a customer’s Architect about how we would issue certificates for a vSphere, vRA & vROPS deployment. The customer had no internal CA and relied instead on a public CA to issue all certificates that would be user facing.

This simplified the management of the certificates and meant they did not need to maintain an internal PKI infrastructure or root certificates on client devices. I explained to him that while this worked currently for their servers which used internal names or reserved private IPs it would soon change and they would need to look at deploying their own PKI infrastructure.

As of the 1st November 2015, public Certificate Authorities like Symantec and GlobalSign will no longer issue certificates with a subjectAltName extension or Subject commonName field containing a IP address within the IPv4 RFC 1918 reserved address space or  IPv6 address in the RFC 4193 range:

This is also the case for Internal Names. An Internal Name is a Common Name (CN) or Subject Alternative Name (SAN) field of a certificate  does not end with a valid Top Level Domain (TLD) i.e. .local, .internal etc. CN or SANs which end with valid TLD i.e. .com or .net will still be valid.

This will also affect certificates which use NetBIOS names or short hostnames i.e vCenter01, WebServer, Beeblebrox etc.

Any certificate which expires after the 1st November 2015 will not be reissued and after the 1st October 2016 all certificates which are still valid will be revoked by the issue CAs and will no longer work as a valid certificate.

This is not just a VMware issue and will impact all servers using certificates described above. However, if you are affected by this issue in your VMware environment, VMware have posted a KB article which covers the issue here.

VCIX-NV Study Resources


I recently passed my VCP-NV exam and I am now studying for the VCIX-NV. I thought I would gather together the resources I’m using in a single place for my own reference and to help anyone else studying. I’ll update this page whenever I find new resources.

VMware NSX Documentation (6.0.x)

NSX for vSphere Installation and Upgrade Guide
NSX for vSphere Administration Guide
NSX for vSphere API Reference Guide
NSX for vSphere Command Line Interface Reference

Securing VMware NSX

VMware NSX Network Design Guide

Deploying VMware NSX with Cisco UCS and Nexus 7000

VMware NSX-v Hands-on Guide – Lessons Learned in Real Life Deployments

Understanding and troubleshooting VMware NSX Manager

VCIX-NV Blueprint

Version 1.9 – August 2015

Study Guides

The (Un)Official VCIX-NV Study Guide

VMware Hands on Labs

HOL-SDC-1603 VMware NSX Introduction
HOL-SDC-1625 VMware NSX Advanced

Plural Sight Videos

VMware NSX for vSphere  – Introduction & Installation
VMware NSX for vSphere – Network Services


VMware Network Virtualization Fundamentals

ESXi 6 Update 1a & ESXi5.5 Update 3a Released

VMware have released ESXi 6.0 Update 1a which fixes the issues noted in KB2124669 – ESXi 6.0 network connectivity is lost with NETDEV WATCHDOG timeouts in the vmkernel.log.

The update is available here.

Also, VMware have released  ESXi 5.5 Update 3a which incorporates the patch for KB2133118 where Snapshot Consolidation caused Virtual Machines to crash.

Update 3a is available here

Hopefully vendors will released updated custom ISOs for both ESXi 5.5 U3a and 6.0 U1a over the next few days.


vExpert on #slack



Earlier tonight I noticed a tweet from Zach Milleson (twitter) who asked if there was a #slack channel for vRO or vRA which got me thinking. We’ve just started to use #slack internally at Xtravirt and it’s had a great uptake and has increased the amount of collaboration within the professional services teams as well as given other teams opportunity to get help with issues when needed.

Having seen the impact #slack can have and with Zach’s tweet in mind, I’ve set up a #slack team for vExperts- The idea being that vExperts can use the various channels to communicate and collaborate across common topics.

It’s only using the basic package for now until I see how much usage we get. With this in mind it’s set to be invite only so if you want access please send a DM or tweet to “vExpert_slack” and I will add you to the team. I’ve created channels for things like vRA, VRO, VCIX and VCDX and can add additional channels if requested. It will probably take a little time to reach critical mass and as more people join the more useful it will become.


I’m currently working on a project for VMware Professional Services in Schiphol-Rijk, The Netherlands along with Marco van Baggum (twitter/blog). While testing the deployment of vRO my colleague and I noticed that we were getting errors when using certain browsers.


This error hadn’t occurred previously and nothing had changed with the SSL certificates. After a bit of head scratching I noticed that Chrome had recently updated to Version 45 (also disabling Java!) and was now blocking access to sites with weak ephemeral Diffie-Hellman keys. This is also the case for Firefox v40 and above but I’ve not come across the issue with Internet Explorer 11.

After some research I found VMware KB (link) which pointed me in the right direction.

vRO 6.x has the following keys enabled by default:

This includes the weak ephemeral Diffie-Hellman keys:

SSH to the vRO appliance, and edit the file /etc/vco/app-server/server.xml

Search for the line :

Remove the weak ciphers so the line is now:

Repeat the above for the file /var/lib/vco/configuration/conf/server.xml

Save the files and reboot the appliance.

When you access the vRO URL you should now see the following:



vExpert 2015


Late yesterday evening (UK time) while I was working away in the Netherlands, the 2015 Second Half vExperts was announced (VMTN Blog). This is the first year I have felt I’ve done enough to qualify so was amazed to see that I had been named along with my colleague Giuliano Bertello ( / @GiulianoBerteo). This now takes the number of vExpert’s at Xtravirt upto 13 (Jason Meers having moved on during the last 6 months).

So what is a vExpert? VMware vExpert is an honorary title VMware grant to outstanding advocates of the company’s products. A “vExpert” is not a technical certification or even a general measure of VMware expertise. The judges select people who are particularly engaged with their community and who have developed a substantial personal platform of influence in those communities. There were a lot of smart, accomplished people, even VCDXs, that weren’t named as vExperts this year. This accreditation means that the person is at the top of their game as well as an evangelist for VMware’s products.

To be included in this list of people is a huge honour and something I will work hard over the next 12 months to make sure I continue to justify my nomination,





Moving fowards…..


Over the past couple of months I’ve been working for VMware Northern EMEA PSO via a partner on a project based out in Amsterdam. It’s been a great experience and I’ve really enjoyed the work. Unfortunately the project was stood down which meant the role was quite short lived. I met some great people out there and I’ve learnt a lot. One thing it has shown me is that I’m actually a lot closer to submitting a design for VCDX that I thought and it’s really pushed me to get going.

Since I finished in Amsterdam I’ve been looking at how I want to take my career forwards and how I can work towards the goal of achieving my VCDX. I’ve been working as an Technical Architect for a number of years but only recently in a role that was dedicated to VMware, which has meant I’ve built up a good knowledge across a number of technologies including VMware, Microsoft and Citrix. I wanted an opportunity where I could focus on VMware technologies but also not waste my experience in other areas. I’ve had a couple of conversations of the last couple of weeks with the guys at Xtravirt and I’ve been really impressed with their passion, knowledge and how they work. I’ve known a few Xtravirt employees though VMUGs, Twitter etc. and they have always had an excellent reputation as a company both inside and outside of VMware.

After meeting their CFO & Practise Manager and conversations with their CTO, I’ve accepted an offer for the role of Senior Consultant and will be joining this week. I’m hugely excited about the opportunity and can’t wait to get started. It’s going to be a great challenge and is just what I need to push myself forwards and towards the goal of achieving my VCDX and continue to develop my career.

I’m going to use this blog going forwards as a resource for others and will post as much as I can about the technologies I’ll be using, the challenges I face and my progress towards the VCDX.

I’d like to say thanks to Mike Jones and Gregg Robertson who have been great and huge help and support over the last couple of weeks as I’ve gone through this process.