Home Lab: Networking Upgrade

It’s been a long time since I have done a new installment in my homelab series. I have been pretty busy with my new endeavors as an NSX SE. More on how that’s going in a later post. Today, we’re going to talk about my recent networking upgrade in the home / home lab.

I used to have a Linksys by Cisco E2500 running the Tomato firmware. This worked well for a while. Recently it has been randomly dropping packets for 10 seconds here and there. Also, it has not been cooperating with my sub-par ISP. I have now upgraded to an Ubiquiti EdgeRouter X, and UAP-AC-LR.

I have been eyeing these for quite some time. They are all the rage in the vExpert #Homelab slack channel. So let’s get moving with this riveting tale.

Let’s start with a huge road block I ran into. Ask me how many computers I have in my house with an RJ45 port. Go ahead. Ask. The answer is 1. Is this the $3k MacBook Pro Retina that I use for work? Is it my personal MacBook Air? Is it my wife’s MacBook? Nope. Not 1 of those. I never once thought about my lack of network jacks until I needed it. The 1 computer in the house with a network port is my wifes OLD iMac. This is one of those White ones. So I had to pull this thing upstairs just so I could connect the router to it to configure it.

I wanted this upgrade / swap to have as little downtime as possible to my home network. So I decided to configure the EdgeRouter as far as possible, then do a quick swap. I started off by logging into the EdgeRouter and configuring the LAN and WAN. I have a statically assigned WAN IP, so I went in and set that up on eth0. I then configured the remaining ports for LAN, and enabled a DHCP server for the 192.168.1.0/24 scope. This will fulfill my home LAN / Internet configuration needs.

Now here is  where things get weird. The UniFi Access Points require a piece of software to run to initially configure. So, where am I going to put it? I have a vSphere lab, so I put it in there. This is on the 172.16.0.0/16 subnet behind my Cisco 2821. No problem right? Well, the AP is going to live on the 192.168.1.0/24 segment on the EdgeRouter. So, I put in the required static routes from the “home” segment to the “lab” segment. Fired up the UniFi Controller software and the UAP-AC-LR hardware. But, is it going to work?! The answer is no. UniFi will not locate AP’s across L3 boundaries. So, how did I fix this? I did what anybody would do. I configured a switchport on the 2960 for VLAN 50 (where the UniFi is), setup a DHCP scope, and plugged the AP into it. Success! The AP was “adopted”. Now, I moved it back to the home network segment, and since routing is in place, and it has the Controller IP address, it came right back up.

So now, we have Routing, and we have Wireless. As far as my wife is concerned, we’re done. I powered off the old router and swapped all the devices to the new AP.

Bonus Round:

So, while I was technically done with the Home Lab network upgrade, I have a bit of a bonus. The reason why I opted for the EdgeRouter is for dynamic routing. I do BGP / OSPF inside my NSX lab, and wanted to have dynamic routing peered all the way from my ISP handoff (EdgeRouter) to the Lab Router (Cisco 2821) in to NSX.

I started out by enabling BGP on the EdgeRouter. I gave it an AS of 1, and told it to advertise all routes. I then went into the Cisco and enabled BGP. I added some networks to test, and then ran the ‘show ip bgp neighbors’ on both routers. Established, Up. Ok, that’s great. Did ‘show ip route’ on each. All the routes…except BGP. What gives? I banged my head against a wall on this one for a while. I have never done BGP on a Cisco router before. Adding ‘network x.x.x.x’ doesn’t automatically advertise routes. I removed all the ‘network’ lines, and issued the auto-summary. Well, would you look at that. We have routes!

bgp_erx

As you can see, the 172.16.0.0/16 route is now advertised as BGP from the 2821 to the EdgeRouter. The EdgeRouter is 192.168.1.1, and the transit network on the 2821 is 192.168.1.2 into the 172.16.0.0/16 network.

bgp_cisco

Now as you can see in the 2821 CLI above, I have a BGP route from the EdgeRouter for my home 192.168.1.0/24 segment. Everything is working!

I am in the middle of an NSX re-deploy to 6.2.4, so I’ll update this once it’s done and peered!

-vTimD

 

Let VMworld be open!

vmworld2016

It is finally upon us. VMworld 2016 is in full swing. Sunday was a full day of great stuff. It was a day full of Opening Acts. The panels were chosen perfectly. Everyone who participated was great. The moderators also did a great job at keeping everyone on track and getting the good information out there.

Lunch was provided by the @vBrisket crew. They weren’t able to work out the logistics of making their own food, but the catering was fantastic. Lots of meat options, with some tasty sides.

The evening wrapped up (for me) at Nine Fine Irishman for the VMunderground Party. It was well worth the cost of the ticket, for sure. Some great food, drinks, and company. There is sure to be a lot of great stuff to come from VMworld 2016, so stay tuned!

-vTimD

Achievement Unlocked: VCAP5-DCA

GoodNewsEveryone

Good News, Everyone!

Today, I sat and passed the VCAP5-DCA. This was my 2nd run at the exam. First time, I missed the mark by 5 points. This time, I found those 5 points… as well as 68 more. I feel like I did really well. I can’t thank the community enough for the support. Huge shout out to Joshua Andrews and his test track lab for giving me the opportunity to plan, learn, and cram. I truly don’t think I could have passed without it. If you’re going for the DCA, I HIGHLY recommend it.

There is now even better news on top of just another VCAP. I have now fulfilled all the pre-requisites for the VCDX submission. I’ve been slowly starting to pull my design together the past couple months. Now that the DCA and DCD are under my belt, the only thing in between me and my # is that silly application, acceptance, and defense stuff 🙂

Looking forward to some posts on the design / VCDX process, as well as hopefully a VCDX pass after a while. We’ll see!

-vTimD

Let’s get ready to VMworld!

vmworld2016

It’s almost that time again! VMworld 2016 is coming to you live from the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino from August 28th – September 1st. There is still time to get in for your first trip, or your 13th. This year, as with most years, is poised to be the best VMworld yet. Some of the best breakouts from the most sought after speakers are lined up. If you’re going and have never been before, I created a guide here. Just ignore the San Francisco specific stuff. You’ll come home with a massive collection of goodies, so bring room.

On top of all the sessions, you’ll be doing a ton of networking. Come out and meet some of the guys in the community who you’ve learned so much from. Top folks from all over the world will be in town for the event. Want to just chill and listen to some informal talks? Spend the day in the hang space listening to the vBrownBag tech talks. I’ll be giving two, I believe.

And absolutely don’t forget about the vendor events. Check out the gatherings page for more info on the things going on. Fall Out Boy and Capital Cities will be playing the VMworld Party this year, at the Las Vegas Speedway. Want to ride a lap around the track in a pace car? This is your chance!

Want to register? Go here and I’ll see you there!

-vTimD

My time @VMware (A Love Story)

So, I’m sure I’ve made it very apparent over the past couple months that I made a transition in jobs. I left Dell Services and became a Sr. Pre-Sales SE in the NSBU @VMware. I knew since I started working with VMware products that I would eventually like to work at the “mothership”. I had always heard nothing but great things about the company. After my first couple months in, I can tell you insider information. It’s even better than anyone ever said.

The people, the products, all of it. I never thought I would join the NSX team. I always thought it was one of the coolest products, but didn’t think I fit the mold for the SE role in NSBU. I was wrong. There is no mold. Everyone I have met and worked with so far has been more than helpful in getting me up to speed. I’ve been offered more training than I could possibly take in 5 lifetimes. And I’ve tried to take all of it.

logo-guidelines

I’ve spent two weeks this month in Palo Alto. If you’ve never been to the headquarters of a tech company in the Bay Area, you’re missing out. The VMware campus is brilliant. Nested in the hills. The sprawling campus is covered in beautiful trees, long walking paths, employees w/ their dogs, and even turtles! The company has gone a LONG way to ensure that employees are happy. Food options for every diet, fresh fruit weekly, bagel / pastry days, coolers full of all types of drinks for all types of tastes, and snacks for all types of tastes as well! My family flew in to town for the last few days, and my wife was floored. As a public school teacher from a smaller district in Texas, she never imagined company HQ’s could be this way. Her exact quote was, “Stupid-Crazy Big.” My daughter enjoyed the cupcakes 🙂

As some of you have seen, I have stock-piled a small hoard of Certifications in my time here. As I work for VMware, their certs are… affordable. They provide me the opportunity to go for the certs I have been studying on, for such a long while. It was just cost prohibitive before. I have been pushed and encouraged to go for the gold. My overall career goal right now is VCDX. My boss is a double-VCDX (DCV, NV). While he can steer my career in the right direction for this goal, he can’t directly be involved as he is a panelist. I also have a crew of VCDX’s that I know that have all advised that they are willing to help in any way possible. Being at VMware, I’ll have the best opportunities to study, attempt, and complete my goal. I have a great team around me and behind me to get me to the end goal.

Other than VCDX, which is my overall goal, CCNA is next on my plate. I am going to put my nose to the grind-stone to get this done. It was on my 6 month plan, and I have 4 months to complete. This is part of the overall plan to get me where I need to be to be a great NSX SE. As with any other job I have ever done, I am pushing myself on the fast-track to be the best possible. I’ve heard there is an award for SE of the year. I want it. It will be mine.

I’ve already spent some time with customers, and gotten great feedback on the presentation, the product, and everything in between. I feel I made the right choice jumping on board with Team NSX. I can’t wait to see what all we have coming up!

If you have the opportunity to join Team VMware… Do. It. Run as fast as you can towards us. You won’t regret it.

-vTimD

 

Achievement Unlocked: VCIX-NV

As some of you may have known, I did not successfully pass the VCIX-NV my first try. I sat it 7 days ago, and missed the mark by 8 points. Today, I re-sat the exam, and passed by 47 points. I am extremely excited to be up at the VCIX level now. I am part of a great group of people, and even further on my way to VCDX.

By now, you have all heard how awful the lab is. I did it on a weekend twice, and the performance was not terrible. Laggy, but could be dealt with. No major lab provision issues.

I want to put out a HUGE shout out to Martijn for the lab guide that got me where I needed to be. This is an invaluable resource for VCIX-NV (6.0). Note that this will be out of date when the VCAP6-NV Deploy comes out soon, but it can be updated and most is still relevant. Just buttons may be worded differently.

Thanks for all the support from friends, family, and community!

vcix-nv

-vTimD

My Top 10 Album List!

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You didn’t ask me for this. Well, @h0bbel threw the gauntlet down in public a while back, and I have been bashing my head in ever since to answer back. I have finally figured it out. Or, at least, I am going with this iteration. I could have changed it around and in and out a million times. Well. Here we go!

10. Taking Back Sunday – Tell All Your Friends

Really, in the mix for one of the best done albums of all time. Great tunes with a couple of dueling vocalists. Was the album to my summer before senior year (yes, I know this is giving away my young-er age. This entire list has some stuff only a 30-something could love).

9. Avenged Sevenfold – Avenged Sevenfold

If you haven’t heard this album, then give it a while and report back to the list. This group of musicians 100% know how to write an album. Hard, to easy, to…well… I can’t even begin to explain what “A Little Piece of Heaven” is. Have a listen for yourself. And this was one of (or the) last albums that The Rev was alive to record the drums for.

8. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin II

Absolutely no explanation necessary. If you have to ask, “Why didn’t you choose the one with Stairway on it?” Then you need to move on. Just go.

7. Staind – Break the Cycle

I had a hard time choosing between Break the Cycle and Dysfunction. Their debut album is so raw and real. But god help me, I just love this album. Gave them a bit more studio polish to iron out their sound. And still before they went off the rails to the way lighter side for a couple albums.

6. Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced?

I would give anything to go back in time in a DeLorean to see Hendrix live. I was really born in the wrong time. It would be impossible to have a list of mine without this album.

5. Breaking Benjamin – Phobia

I ranked them so high here due to their live shows. As a guitarist / musician of over 20 years, I value stage presence VERY high. Breaking Benjamin can throw down a show just as well as they can in a studio. And this is a great album.

4. Green Day – Dookie

Oh yes… My introduction to Punk Rock. I had a cassette tape of Basket Case that I recorded off the radio. I wore that tape OUT. Finally got this album, and it was actually my first CD. And it was the first album I taught myself on Guitar.

3. Slipknot – Slipknot

And since we just got through my intro to Punk and Rock, this was my jump off the cliff from Punk Rock to Hard Rock / Metal. This group changed the game. Some people call it noise. You show me any other group that can put 9 people on a stage and make brilliantly written music. It would be impossible. I am a fan of ANYTHING that Corey Taylor puts his hands on. Slipknot, Stone Sour, and his Solo CMFT stuff. Brilliant guy.

2. Incubus – Make Yourself

Oh, Incubus. Some of the greatest indy musicians gone mainstream. I could have put any of their albums on here, but this one is the one I listened to for basically a year straight. A great range of musical styles in here.

  1. Finch – What it is to Burn

I found Finch in the middle of High School. Great split guitarists, well produced, and an all around great album. Runs the gamut of a relationship from New Beginnings, through the fight (Project Mayhem) through the end (Ender). A really well done album. And they put on a killer show live.

Well. This is it. Going to publish it now. I know the second I do I’ll want to change it. It’s SO HARD TO DO THIS.

-vTimD

Achievement Unlocked: VCAP5-DCD

My day has come! I am finally part of the VCAP club. Today, I sat, and passed, the VCAP5-DCD exam. I have to say, it was the most brutal 3 hours of my life. So many ups and downs. I had no idea how things were going to go when I clicked “End Exam”. It took me a few seconds of staring when I saw the score for it to sink in. I sat in the chair staring at the screen for a couple minutes. I even forgot to finalize the exam ending and walked out to the proctor to get the score sheet. When it didn’t come out, we realized that I didn’t click to close out. Then there it was. My score sheet. Pass.

The score was, in all honesty, better than I expected. I got a 337 out of 500. While you only need 300 to pass, making 337 not that impressive, I truly only had hoped for a 301. I am thrilled with what I got.

Let’s go for a little exam prep / experience. My exam prep was not what I recommend for someone wanting to sit down and crank out the DCD. I’ve been working towards this for a couple years now. I’ve been working on vSphere / VDI Design for a couple years. So a lot of it was practical knowledge. I also went over the VCAP5-DCD Simulator until I felt I was only answering from memory. Then I didn’t go back for months, then I did it again. It’s great. 100% use the blueprint and go through some of the PDF’s on consulting (risk, constraint, assumption, requirement type stuff). There is a Google Plus group you can join with a ton of great info / people / stories.

Also, I did the I really never sat back and said “Alright, lets do this!” and put my nose to the grindstone. I really only went for it because I had been kicking it along for a while. Decided today was the day. I don’t recommend this.

If you’ve never done a Design exam, or even a VCAP, I highly recommend you mentally prepare. Sleep well, have a good breakfast, take the exam early (unless you’re an afternoon kind of person.) I did not spend my evening before studying, as that bums me out, and I figured I wouldn’t get any better in 1 last night. The exam is 22 questions. Most are drag-and-drop style questions. There are 9 Visio-style design tool questions, 1 of which is a “Master Design.” My master design item came at like halfway through the exam. I immediately marked it and moved on. I highly recommend saving this for the end. They say to allow 30 minutes for it, I ended up starting this with 1 hr flat left. I truly can’t remember how long it took, I know I finished early.

As far as tips, I really have 1 big one. READ THE QUESTION. Did you read that? Did you get it? Read it again. Then read it again. Who knows, the question could give you part of the answer. You’d never know if you didn’t read it.

So that’s it. Not a lot of info, but enough. I just needed to tell anyone else that would listen that I passed. Best of luck for everyone else in your endeavors. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about it. I’ll be glad to tell you what I can.

vcap5-dcd

-vTimD