My VMware ESXi Home Lab Upgrade

Dell R720 Server

Although the focus in my career right now is certainly more cloud focused in Amazon Web Services and Azure, I still use my home lab a lot.

For the last 5+ years my home lab had consisted of using 3x Intel NUC’s (i5 DC53427HYE), a Synology NAS for shared storage and an HP ProCurve switch. This setup served me well for most of those years. It has allowed me to get many of the certifications I have, progress in my career and have fun as well.

At the start of this year I decided it was time to give the home lab an overhaul. At first I looked at the newest generation of Intel NUC’s but really wasn’t looking forward to dropping over $1,300 on just partial compute (I’d still need to be RAM for each of the 3 NUC’s). I also wanted something that just worked, no more fooling around with network adapter drivers or doing this tweak or that tweak.

I also no longer needed to be concerned about something that had a tiny footprint. I also questioned if I really needed multiple physical ESXi hosts. My home lab isn’t running anything mission critical and if I really wanted I could always build additional nested VMware ESXi hosts on one powerful machine if I needed.

So in the end, the below is what I settled on. Replacing all of my compute, most of my networking and adding more storage!

Using AWS Systems Manager to regain access to an EC2 machine

AWS Systems Manager

The other last night I received a call from a co-worker who added a Windows firewall rule to a production AWS EC2 machine running Server 2016. Soon after he couldn’t access the server via RDP nor were any of the IIS sites loading.

Of course a snapshot was not created prior to the change, because “It worked in Test”.

At first I thought we might be up a creek and restoring from an older backup. But, then I remembered AWS Systems Manager and the ability to send commands to an AWS EC2 machine via the AWS console.

Below are the quick steps I took to disable the Windows Firewall using AWS Systems Manager to regain access into the EC2 machine.

Enable DNS over HTTPS and Encrypted SNI in Firefox

In Firefox 62, Mozilla has added two new features called DNS over HTTPS (DoH) and Trusted Recursive Resolver (TRR). The ideal behind each of these features is to improve user privacy and improved performance. DNS has typically been sent over insecure HTTP allowing anyone on the wire, such as your ISP, to monitor what sites you are visiting.

Below we’ll look at how to enable TRR you can tell Firefox to make DoH it’s first choice and use the system DNS as a fallback option.

The second feature we will be enable is Encrypted SNI, which prevents others from intercepting the TLS SNI extension and use it to determine what websites you are browsing.

How to fix Veeam Backup after installing vCenter 6.7 Update 1

After upgrading vCenter 6.7 to vCenter 6.7 Update 1 in one of my environments, it was noticed that Veeam backups where failing with the error: Object reference not set to an instance of an object.

Error: Object reference not set to an instance of an object

I’m running Veeam Backup and Replication 9.5 U3a and after doing some digging around, it seems there is an API change in vSphere 6.7 Update 1 that is causing the backups to fail.

While Veeam plans to resolve this issue with their new Update 4 version coming out soon, there is a very simple work around thanks to this forum post.

How to update VMware ESXi 6.7 to 6.7 Update 1

To go along with the newly released VMware vCenter 6.7 Update 1 release, comes VMware ESXi 6.7 Update 1 as well.

As you might expect with an Update 1 release there are a number of patches, fixes and new additions with ESXi 6.7 U1. If you haven’t already seen, check out the release notes here.

Below are two ways to easily upgrade your ESXi 6.0-6.7 hosts to ESXi 6.7 U1 using the command line or by using VMware Update Manager.

Upgrade VCSA 6.5 to VCSA 6.7 Update 1

VMware vCenter 6.7 U1 has recently been released. Last week I posted how to upgrade VCSA 6.7 to 6.7 Update 1, this post will walk you though upgrading VMware vCenter Server Appliance 6.5 to VCSA 6.7 Update 1!

When doing a VCSA version upgrade the upgrade process is much different, than going from say 6.7 to 6.7 U1. When going from 6.5 to 6.7 the upgrade is actually broken up into two stages.

The first stage involves deploying a brand new vCenter 6.7 appliance. Then the second stage will copy the data from your 6.5 VCSA into the newly deployed 6.7 VCSA from stage 1.

Update vCenter Server Appliance 6.7 to 6.7 Update 1

VMware vCenter Service Appliance Update

VMware has released vCenter Server 6.7 Update 1 and with comes with a number changes.

One most notable change is the feature complete HTML5 vSphere client. The vSphere client in vCenter 6.7 Update 1 now includes the ability to manage:

  • Host profiles
  • Auto deploy
  • Full vSphere Update Manager (VUM)
  • A new dark theme
  • and vCenter High Availability.

That’s no where near all of the changes though, there are many more changes and updates in the 6.7 Update 1 update. Be sure to read the full release notes here.

In this post we’ll see just how easy it is to upgrade from VCSA 6.7 to VCSA 6.7 Update 1 in just a couple steps!

How to upgrade ESXi 6.5 to ESXi 6.7

VMware released ESXi 6.7 a little while ago, but it’s only been here recently have I started deploying it in my home and work lab environments. Below are two ways to easily upgrade your ESXi 6.5 hosts to ESXi 6.7 using the command line or by using the VMware ESXi offline bundle.

How to manually delete NetApp SnapMirror snapshots

The other day, one of our volumes in the lab environment filled up. This volume has a couple large VM’s on it, coupled with a couple different Veeam backup jobs running using the native Veeam backup methods as well as using NetApp snap mirror to snapshot the volume and then using Veeam to ship it out to Azure.

At any rate the volume filled up to the point where vCenter wasn’t allowing me to migrate VM’s off the datastore. I really didn’t want to expand the volume just so I could move VM’s off of it.

Instead, I decided to delete some of the older proof of concept snapshots from SnapMirror. Below are the quick and easy steps to clear up some un-used snapshots and free up some space on the datastore.

How to host a static website using AWS S3 and Cloudflare

I’ve been noticing a previous post about how to host a static site using various AWS services has been gaining in popularity.

Most recently a blog post by Thom Greene (@tbgree00) had mentioned the previous article and while all the steps in the previous post are accurate and works – I wanted to share how I now host static websites using AWS S3 and Cloudflare.

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