SCCM lessons learned

a current install I am working on is proving to be one of the most difficult.  It seems like all of the prerequisites I sent over are not just suggestions.

local admin is needed for all service accounts and all computer accounts on every server in the SCCM infrastructure.

sccm accounts as well as computer accounts need to have SA on the SCCM do server

standard windows ports need to be open between all servers in infrastructure.


More items to come as I think about them


Windows 2012 R2 Super Ping

Test-NetConnection PowerShell Portscan



With Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2 Microsoft released PowerShell v4 with new PowerShell modules and new PowerShell cmdlets. One of them is the new Test-NetConnection cmdlet which does basically replaces some simple network tools like Ping, Traceroute, Portscanner and more.

First if you just run Test-NetConnection this will check a Microsoft edge server and will tell you if your internet is working or not.

PowerShell Test-NetConnection

You can also ping other servers

Test-NetConnection Ping

If we have a closer look at this cmdlet we can see that we can do much more.

get-help get-testnetconnection

What we can do is something like a port scan. In this example I check if the RDP port is open on my webserver. Which is hopefully not ;-)

Test-NetConnection -CommonTCPPort RDP

Test-NetConnection PowerShell Portscan

You can also check for not so common ports by using the -Port parameter and entering the port number.
Another thing you could do would be a simple traceroute.

Test-NetConnection -TraceRoute

Test-NetConnection PowerShell Traceroute

If you want to do a ping -t you could use the following command

while ($true) {Test-NetConnection -InformationLevel Quiet}

Ping -t with PowerShell

I hope this helps you a little :)


VMWare on a MAC

Using a Mac with VMWare vSphere (ESXi) 5

One of the biggest complaints I’ve had with VMWare vSphere and VMWare ESX/ESXi over the last few years is that managing my virtual machines from my Mac computer was a hassle. The VMWare management utilities are all Windows-only, and even the few web-based tools either do not work or are extremely limited from a Mac. While it isn’t perfect yet, VMWare vSphere 5 has made it so you can actually do just about anything you need to using a Macintosh computer; you just need to go through a few hurdles.

To enable the administration of your various virtual machines, storage, clusters, datacenters, and the like, you can now use the vSphere 5 Web Client. Before it can be used, it must be authorized; the best instructions I found for this are here. Follow the steps in the “Authorizing the vSphere Web Client (Server)” section. This is a one-time configuration necessary to enable the vSphere Web Client.

Once authenticated, you will see something that looks very similar to the Windows-based vSphere Client running in your browser.

vSphere Web Client

This will satisfy most of your management needs, but it leaves out an all-important capability; the ability to remotely view the console of the systems. There’s a Console button, but it won’t work on a Mac. Once you’ve installed a machine, you can typically enable some sort of remote desktop capability in the operating system, but what do you do before then? If you’re running Windows, you use the vSphere client and open a console, but on a Mac, you’re out of luck. Right? Wrong.

There is an under-documented feature of vSphere that allows the capability of opening up VNC connections from the host directly to the console of the virtual machine. To perform this, we first have to enable incoming connections to your vSphere server, as vSphere 5 has an integrated firewall. This is the one step you will actually need to use the Windows vSphere Client; everything else can be done using the Web Client. This step needs to be executed once for each vSphere or ESXi host running virtual machines you want to access using VNC.

In the Windows vSphere client, choose the host you wish to enable VNC connections on. Choose the Configuration tab and on the left choose Security Profile. On the right, next toFirewall click Properties… As VMWare does not include VNC as a protocol, it is not listed as an available option. However the ports allowed by the gdbserver protocol will suit our purposes. Check the box next to gdbserver. (It is also wise to highlight the gdbserver line and click the Firewall… button and lock down where you will allow these VNC connections to take place from; in ours I restricted this to our intranet.) Click OK and you’ve now enabled the incoming ports to be used for VNC.

Finally, enabling VNC access to the console machines is a matter of setting advanced configuration parameters on each virtual machine, which can only be done when the virtual machine is off. To open up the advanced configuration:

  • In the Windows vSphere client, choose the machine, click Edit Settings…, click theOptions tab, choose Advanced->General on the left, and click Configuration Parameters… on the right.
  • In the Web client, choose the machine, click Edit Settings… under the VM Hardwaresection, click VM Options, click Advanced, and click Edit Configuration….

In both cases, you now want to add three rows by clicking the Add Row button.

Name Value
RemoteDisplay.vnc.enabled true
RemoteDisplay.vnc.port 5900-5999 are the “standard” ports, choose one different from other VMs on the host.
RemoteDisplay.vnc.password the VNC password used to access the VNC session; only the first 8 characters are encrypted using the VNC protocol, and weakly at that. Don’t rely on this for security.

Once you’ve added these rows and click OK, you can now use a VNC client to connect to the console of the machine. Power up the machine, and then using Finder on the Mac, choose Go->Connect to Server (or hit Command-K), and type the following:

vnc://<ip or name of esxi host>:<port chosen in configuration settings>/

and click Connect. You will be prompted for your password, and depending on your client/version of OSX you may receive a warning about how keystroke encryption is not enabled. Accept the warning, and you will see the console of the virtual machine! (And note, since Macs don’t already use the three-finger salute, you can safely just press Ctrl-Alt-Del in that VNC-window to log into Windows systems!)

Once you’ve installed the operating system of choice, and enabled that OS’ remote desktop capability, you may want to disable this VNC access. Just shut down the VM, go back into the advanced options and change the RemoteDisplay.vnc.enabled setting to false.

Hopefully at some point soon, VMWare will enable a true web-based console application (which doesn’t require host-specific plugins to be installed) to go with their nice new web client. Until then, this is a reasonable workaround for accessing virtual machines using a Mac.


Vmotion without shared storage

I have been running into issues on my home lab when it comes to load balancing. Apparently with the release of the VSphere 5.1 there is a new feature that allows you to migrate running images between hosts without shutting them down first.

The requirements are as follows

Requirements and Limitations for vMotion Without Shared Storage

A virtual machine and its host must meet resource and configuration requirements for the virtual machine files and disks to be migrated with vMotion in the absence of shared storage.

vMotion in an environment without shared storage is subject to the following requirements and limitations:

The hosts must be licensed for vMotion.

The hosts must be running ESXi 5.1 or later.

The hosts must meet the networking requirement for vMotion. See vSphere vMotion Networking Requirements.

The virtual machines must be properly configured for vMotion. See Virtual Machine Conditions and Limitations for vMotion in the vSphere Web Client

Virtual machine disks must be in persistent mode or be raw device mappings (RDMs). See Storage vMotion Requirements and Limitations.

The destination host must have access to the destination storage.

When you move a virtual machine with RDMs and do not convert those RDMs to VMDKs, the destination host must have access to the RDM LUNs.

Consider the limits for simultaneous migrations when you perform a vMotion migration without shared storage. This type of vMotion counts against the limits for both vMotion and Storage vMotion, so it consumes both a network resource and 16 datastore resources. See Limits on Simultaneous Migrations in the vSphere Web Client.


Migration with vMotion in Environments Without Shared Storage

You can use vMotion to migrate virtual machines to a different host and datastore simultaneously. In addition, unlike Storage vMotion, which requires a single host to have access to both the source and destination datastore, you can migrate virtual machines across storage accessibility boundaries.

In vSphere 5.1 and later, vMotion does not require environments with shared storage. This is useful for performing cross-cluster migrations, when the target cluster machines might not have access to the source cluster’s storage. Processes that are working on the virtual machine continue to run during the migration with vMotion.

You can place the virtual machine and all of its disks in a single location or select separate locations for the virtual machine configuration file and each virtual disk. In addition, you can change virtual disks from thick-provisioned to thin-provisioned or from thin-provisioned to thick-provisioned. For virtual compatibility mode RDMs, you can migrate the mapping file or convert from RDM to VMDK.

vMotion without shared storage is useful for virtual infrastructure administration tasks similar to vMotion with shared storage or Storage vMotion tasks.

Host maintenance. You can move virtual machines off of a host to allow maintenance of the host.

Storage maintenance and reconfiguration. You can move virtual machines off of a storage device to allow maintenance or reconfiguration of the storage device without virtual machine downtime.

Storage load redistribution. You can manually redistribute virtual machines or virtual disks to different storage volumes to balance capacity or improve performance.



Migrate a Virtual Machine to a New Host and Datastore by Using vMotion in the vSphere Web Client

You can move a virtual machine to another host and move its disks or virtual machine folder to another datastore. With vMotion, you can migrate a virtual machine and its disks and files while the virtual machine is powered on.

You can perform vMotion in environments without shared storage. Virtual machine disks or contents of the virtual machine folder are transferred over the vMotion network to reach the destination host and datastores.

To make disk format changes and preserve them, you must select a different datastore for the virtual machine files and disks. You cannot preserve disk format changes if you select the same datastore on which the virtual machine currently resides.


Verify that your hosts and virtual machines meet the necessary requirements. See Requirements and Limitations for vMotion Without Shared Storage.

Required privilege: Resource.HotMigrate



Right-click the virtual machine and select Migrate.


To locate a virtual machine, select a datacenter, folder, cluster, resource pool, host, or vApp.


Click the Related Objects tab and click Virtual Machines.


Select Change both host and datastore and click Next.


Select the destination resource for the virtual machine migration.


Select a destination host or cluster for the virtual machine, and click Next.

Any compatibility problems appear in the Compatibility panel. Fix the problem, or select another host or cluster.

Possible targets include hosts and fully automated DRS clusters. You can select a non-automated cluster as a target. You are prompted to select a host within the non-automated cluster.


Select the format for the virtual machine’s disks.



Same format as source

Use the same format as the source virtual machine.

Thick Provision Lazy Zeroed

Create a virtual disk in a default thick format. Space required for the virtual disk is allocated during creation. Any data remaining on the physical device is not erased during creation, but is zeroed out on demand at a later time on first write from the virtual machine.

Thick Provision Eager Zeroed

Create a thick disk that supports clustering features such as Fault Tolerance. Space required for the virtual disk is allocated at creation time. In contrast to the thick provision lazy zeroed format, the data remaining on the physical device is zeroed out during creation. It might take longer to create disks in this format than to create other types of disks.

Thin Provision

Use the thin provisioned format. At first, a thin provisioned disk uses only as much datastore space as the disk initially needs. If the thin disk needs more space later, it can grow to the maximum capacity allocated to it.


Assign a storage profile from the VM Storage Profile drop-down menu.

Storage profiles define the storage capabilities that are required by the applications running on the virtual machine.


Select the datastore location where you want to store the virtual machine files.



Store all virtual machine files in the same location on a datastore.

Select a datastore and click Next.

Store all virtual machine files in the same Storage DRS cluster.


Select a Storage DRS cluster.


(Optional) To not use Storage DRS with this virtual machine, select Disable Storage DRS for this virtual machine and select a datastore within the Storage DRS cluster.


Click Next.

Store virtual machine configuration files and disks in separate locations.


Click Advanced.


For the virtual machine configuration file and for each virtual disk, select Browse, and select a datastore or Storage DRS cluster.


(Optional) If you selected a Storage DRS cluster and do not want to use Storage DRS with this virtual machine, select Disable Storage DRS for this virtual machine and select a datastore within the Storage DRS cluster.


Click Next.


Select the migration priority level and click Next.



Reserve CPU for optimal VMotion performance

vCenter Server attempts to reserve resources on both the source and destination hosts to be shared among all concurrent migrations with vMotion. vCenter Server grants a larger share of host CPU resources. if sufficient CPU resources are not immediately available, vMotion is not initiated.

Perform with available CPU resources

vCenter Server reserves resources on both the source and destination hosts to be shared among all concurrent migration with vMotion. vCenter Server grants a smaller share of host CPU resources. If there is a lack of CPU resources, the duration of vMotion can be extended.


Review the information on the Review Selections page and click Finish.

vCenter Server moves the virtual machine to the new host and storage location. Event messages appear in the Events tab. The data that appears in the Summary tab shows the status and state throughout the migration. If errors occur during migration, the virtual machines revert to their original states and locations.


VCA-DCV class completed

I just finished the class portion of the VCA-DCV  (VMWare Certified Associate-Data Center Virtualization).  The class is better than others I have attended online but it is still painfully dull.  

I did in fact learn about a cool piece of tech that is part of the VMWare suite.  VSA, or Virtual Storage appliance.  This is a set of tools that allows you to share non networked storage as if it were network attached.  This allow you to set up things like VMotion and HA.  I may have to try this in my lab.  (Or I could just get an actual NAS switch for my filer)  Anyways, I think one or 2 more times through the class lessons will be enough to make me ready for the test.  I am also going through the VCA-Cloud lessons.  I figure since the tests are half price right now I should take advantage and sit them both.



A beginning.

This is not The beginning but it is A beginning.

This blog will be my personal notepad of resources and thoughts on my various training endeavors.  My current thoughts are to work to getting my VCP/VCAP.  MS hyper-v is a nice product but after playing with it and using it for a few years, it still seems young and brittle.  it does not take a lot to break it but it does take a lot to fix it once it is broken.

VMWare on the other hand.  Offerings seems solid and “just work”  Price is a lot more but I think it is worth it.  also things like usb and being able to nest vm’s is worth it.