Sunday, August 26, 2012

VMworld Hands-On Labs, Follow-Up

Vmworld2012 us live

In case you hadn't heard, VMworld became "VMwait" today as I, along with quite a few other strong-willed geeks, waited well over seven (yes, that's SEVEN) hours before being seated for our first Hands-On Lab (HoL). Despite the hardships sustained by all, including the folks in green shirts running the labs, we all came through it alive and stronger for it.  To make it up to us, they decided to stay open until 10pm at which time no new folks could enter but those of us that were there could finish what we started. Proudly, I managed to get three labs in (at least most of them) before heading back to my hotel for the night (sorry v0dgeball and VMunderground, I couldn't make it…maybe next year). Unfortunately, I heard some labs were still having problems even once they got the environment up and running. But luckily for me, I had fairly minimal issues and was able to learn lots!

I want to give a HUGE shout-out to Mr. Irish Spring who did an outstanding job listening to our feedback today and made sure we were supplied with refreshments when we got hungry and kept us informed.

Irish Spring

Also many thanks to Ms. Jennifer Galvin who spent some time chatting with some of us, listening to our (mostly justifiable) grumbling about the experiences of the day.

Jennifer Galvin

In all fairness to VMware, I understand that some of the back-side tech being used this year is different than last year (indeed, some of it isn't even being announced until Monday morning's keynote). They took a risk and ended up having some problems. It's certainly happened to me. I'm betting it has (or will) happen to you.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day for everyone involved with the labs.

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VMworld Hands-On Labs, First Look

My Sunday here at VMworld began with a good breakfast at a local bakery. I then headed to Moscone West shortly before the Hands-On Labs (HoL) were scheduled to open at 11am and was greeted with this scene:

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I was able to navigate through the Traditional HoL crowd to the slightly shorter Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) line, indicated by this nice guy:

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After the doors opened, I followed the line inside to the BYOD Check-In Desk. While in line, some very helpful green-shirted VMware folks explained how to prepare our machines for the HoL. After handing over my conference badge to the folks at the table, they entered me into the system and I proceeded to the BYOD Configuration Desk across the room:

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I'd decided to take someone else's advice and use my iPad to login to the site from the HOL wifi (only available inside the HoL area). That way I can access the lab guide instructions on my tablet and then I could use my MacBook Pro to connect to the lab environment with the View Client. The waiting continued in the "Holding Tank" where I hung out with about 100 other folks waiting for my name to proceed up to the top of this screen:

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While waiting, they had a small seating area set up where the folks that wrote the labs were presenting whiteboard sessions:

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Once my name reached the top of the screen I headed to the Seating Desk where I obtained my password and access code to login to the HoL site.

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With this single-use code in hand I was guided to the BYOD HoL seating area where I set up to do my first lab! Based on what I've heard from previous VMworlds, I think it'll all be worth the wait.

See you on Twitter!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

VMworld 2012, Day 1

I'll admit it. I'm a newbie to VMworld. Yes, this is my first time.  But I've been to a few Cisco Live conferences (about 10 I think) so I've been eager to experience VMworld! 

I arrived at the San Francisco airport (SFO) this afternoon after a pleasant day of flying from St. Louis, and caught a cab to my hotel. FYI, it was about $50 and 25 minutes to the Westin at 3rd and Market.  After checking into the hotel, I walked a couple blocks to Moscone South to check into the conference.

Self Check-In had numerous Dell laptops prompting to enter first and last names. It then found me in the system and re-prompted for my first name (I assume in case I wanted to use a nickname). I hit submit and it told me which line number to stand in to pick up my badge and lanyard.

SECURITY NOTE: I'm concerned that they didn't ask to see my ID when they gave me my badge. This has been standard procedure at Cisco Live for years and I hope they just slipped up with it being the first day.

[Follow-up: I heard back from several folks on the VMworld Help group in the SocialCast conference community site. They ARE supposed to ask for ID and VMworld staff will address this with registration folks.]

With badge in hand (or rather, around my neck), I found out I had to head to Moscone West for Materials Pickup. (Side note: I'm looking forward to getting lots of walking in this week!)

Entering Moscone West you get this scene. Note that Self Check-in is available in Moscone South AND West locations.

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I decided to check out the wireless so connected to the "VMworld 2012" SSID on my iPhone. I tried browsing somewhere as a test, and a splash page popped up with a vendor advertisement (yawn) with a countdown timer ("5 seconds until launch"). However, the first time I tried it showed me this weird login screen:

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I walked over to the Technical Support desk near the Southeast entrance and asked about it. They indicated that it acted weird like that and I should try it again. When I did, voila, I got connected and it immediately directed me to the VMworld Mobile website (which I had already logged into earlier in the day).

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Having completed my mission for the day, I headed back to the hotel to do the "Backpack Unboxing" and take some photos, shared for you below.  I'm very excited to be here and grateful for the beautiful weather (it was about 67F when I arrived this afternoon).

Hit me up on Twitter (@swackhap) with your comments or questions, or leave a note below.


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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Unifying Wired and Wireless Edge with Aruba Tunneled Nodes

Anyone familiar with modern lightweight access points (APs) knows and understands the basics: Client connects to AP, AP tunnels traffic back to controller, and administrators can specify all sorts of useful policies in the controller.  Aruba Networks has taken this concept of the wireless edge and extended it to the wired edge of the network with their Tunneled Nodes and Mobility Access Switches. The company I work for has very old closet switches and, since we're pretty heavily invested in Aruba wireless, I'm intrigued by the concept of unifying wired and wireless edges.

With a sample switch acquired from my account team, I spent a couple hours with my SE getting the basic introduction to Aruba's Ethernet switches.  The goal of the session was to get the switch set up as a "wired AP" connected to a local controller, and when a laptop would connect to a particular port, the switch would then build a GRE tunnel to the local controller where the laptop's traffic would get dumped out onto the specified VLAN.  Unfortunately, we weren't able to complete the setup, so my SE and I agreed to engage the TAC for further assistance. 

My experience with the TAC was less than stellar this time around, but I believe it was mostly due to how new this technology is and that many TAC engineers haven't had time to learn it inside and out yet.  Eventually I was able to reach an engineer that could identify a fix, and it turned out to be fairly simple. In addition, a high-level support supervisor called me personally to apologize and really listened to my recommendations for how to improve service.

Before the big reveal, here are the technical details of the setup.

We used a test laptop connected to port 2 of the Aruba switch, which was uplinked to a Cisco switch at my desk via an access-port on vlan 221.  That Cisco switch was connected through a trunked 802.1q LAN to the local controller. See the diagram for a topology overview.

When we first set things up, the tunneled-node (a.k.a. the laptop in this case) showed a state of “in-progress” (see output of “show tunneled-node state” command) and would never get to the “complete” state.

In problem state:
(ArubaS3500) #show tunneled-node state

Tunneled Node State
IP           MAC               Port    state       vlan tunnel inactive-time
--           ---               ----    -----       ---- ------ ------------- 00:1a:1e:10:fb:c0 GE0/0/1 in-progress 0221 4094   0000

Here are the most important parts of the configurations of the switch and controller below.

   controller-ip vlan 221

vlan "221"

interface-profile switching-profile "vlan221"
   access-vlan 221

interface-profile tunneled-node-profile "tunnel-local-controller"

interface gigabitethernet "0/0/1"
   switching-profile "vlan221"

interface gigabitethernet "0/0/2"
   tunneled-node-profile "tunnel-local-controller"
   switching-profile "vlan221"

interface vlan "221"
   ip address netmask

Local Controller:
vlan 220 "Backbone"
vlan 221 wired aaa-profile "s3500aaa"

interface vlan 220
        ip address


aaa profile "s3500aaa"
   initial-role "authenticated"

aaa authentication wired
   profile "s3500aaa"

The core problem ended up being the “tunneled-node-address” command on the controller.  We had set it as the IP address of the controller itself, but the TAC identified this as the problem and changed it to all-zeros, like this:


Finally, the tunneled-node came up in the “complete” state (see output below) and I was able to get a DHCP address on the laptop and connect to the rest of the network.

When problem was fixed:
(ArubaS3500) #show tunneled-node state

Tunneled Node State
IP           MAC               Port    state    vlan tunnel inactive-time
--           ---               ----    -----    ---- ------ ------------- 00:1a:1e:10:fb:c0 GE0/0/2 complete 0221 4094   0000

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