Review: Learning PowerCLI

0167EN_Learning PowerCLI_CoverUnless you’re new to vSphere, you’ll probably have heard about PowerCLI. You may already be using it regularly or perhaps you’ve found the occasional use for it and used one or more of the many excellent scripts that can be found on the internet. Either way, unless you’re an advanced user (or even a guru) of PowerCLI, there’s a book that’s been released recently that could be worth a look.

Learning PowerCLI”, by Robert van den Nieuwendijk, was released just a few weeks ago from publishers Packt Publishing. The author has posted many times on his blog with useful scripts, one-liners and tips for using PowerCLI in the past. Several times an issue that I’ve had has lead me to his blog so I was very interested to see if his knowledge and experience had translated well into book form.

Although I did read through the book from cover to cover, it’s not really that sort of book. PowerCLI and Powershell are technologies that you can easily dip into when a specific need arises and I found that trying to absorb the entire contents of the book was hard-going. That shouldn’t be taken as any sort of slight against the author’s writing style, it’s just the subject matter doesn’t lend itself to being the kind of book that you can’t put down. It is, though, the kind of book that you want to pick up and learn from. I’ve been using Powershell and PowerCLI for many years and I was surprised at the number of things that I learned!

The book starts simply enough by covering the installation and instantiation of PowerCLI as well as proving a few common examples of PowerCLI’s most commonly used cmdlets so that a reader new to the technology can see some immediate benefit. Before things get too heavy, Robert covers some of the most useful Powershell commands available: Get-Help, Get-Command and Get-Member. He also covers a number of useful Powershell tips and best practices whilst simultaneously keeping the reader’s mind on PowerCLI before delving into some more focussed topics, such as:

  • Working with vSphere hosts
  • Working with Virtual Machines
  • Working with Virtual Networks and Storage
  • Managing core vSphere / vCenter functionality

As I’ve already stated, I found the book very useful as it taught me a number of things I didn’t already know, allowing me to correct some bad scripting habits and improve a number of areas of scripts that I’m producing for a current project. People with a very strong grasp of Powershell and PowerCLI already might find that there’s a limit to what they gain from the book but beginners and intermediates alike should find that there’s plenty to take away and use.

VMware vCenter Operations Manager Essentials

6961EN_mockupcover_norLate last year and earlier this year I had the great pleasure of being a technical reviewer for a book that’s now available.

VMware vCenter Operations Manager Essentials by Lauren Malhoit (of AdaptingIT podcast fame) has just been published by Packt Publishing. It takes readers through the steps of deploying and configuring vCOps (as many refer to it), through a tour of the dashboard and data navigation techniques, and finally covers some of the more complex integrations with other VMware and 3rd party products that are possible.

If you’re a user (or potential user) of vCenter Operations Manager then you may want to have a look. You can find out more about the book (and buy it) from one of these links*:

* Other retailers exist but I’ll leave you to search them out for yourself :)

Fusion HR Link: Process Workflows & Automation

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It’s not often that we here at vSpecialist write-up specific vendor technologies, or blog about our workplaces. This is, after all, a generic virtualization blog where we discuss all aspects of IT. However, once in a while, interesting pieces of technological integration comes along that transcends the specific target audience and appeals to the wider IT audience as a whole due to the way the different elements fit together or a new approach.

HR Link is one of those occasions.

Before I start, in the interests of transparency, I need to point out that I work for Fusion Business Solutions, the developers of the HR Link integration application.

HR Link is built on the BMC RemedyAR workflow platform. AR is short for the Action Request system, an under-pinning platform on which other applications like ITSM and other BMC products run.

The technology – whilst interesting in it’s own right – is not the most interesting aspect of this application to a wider IT audience. What is most interesting is the workflow approach taken as an overlay for process management plus the ability to aggregate information from multiple external data sources. Much like VMware Orchestrator, the AR System can take a decision tree and map it to business processes, which themselves map to IT process workflows as part of an IT operational context. This ability is becoming increasingly vital to Infrastructure Architects and Designers who need to balance the requirements of new systems and their integration with existing infrastructure.

HR Link is another example of a kind of enterprise messaging bus for Service Delivery – sitting between other shared services to aggregate and action self-service or fully automated workflows.

I am planning another few posts on this topic with a deeper look into how messaging bus operations impact service delivery – especially in Corporate and Cloud infrastructures. But, in the meantime, if interested in how HR Link works from a technology perspective, there is an up-coming webinar about HR Link, delivered by Fusion Business Solutions.

Pluralsight iOS App offers offline course viewing

I swapped my TrainSignal subscription over to Pluralsight over the weekend. Following the acquisition of TrainSignal last month, integration of their courseware into Pluralsight has moved along very quickly.

As well as providing TrainSignal subscribers with access to Pluralsight’s catalog of courses, the iOS app provides a piece of functionality that I’ve been waiting for – offline viewing on my iPad. Hooray!

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Multimon: Software My Chiropractor Made Me Buy

Well, he didn’t exactly do that. The big frown and look of disapproval at the photo I had been instructed to take of my work area told me almost all I needed to know about what he was about to say.

I work from home quite often and although I’ve never had a problem with how my desk is arranged etc, it came up when I needed to visit a chiropractor for the first time in my life. He wasn’t too impressed with where my laptop was on my desk and my second screen that I used for my Fusion VM, Twitter and my less used apps. After he explained all of the reasons why, he then proceeded to suggest what I needed to do to remedy the problems that he perceived. I’ve taken his advice and interpreted it in the way that suits my methods of working best.

Instead of raising the height of my laptop by about 12 inches, I’ve demoted it to “second screen” status and  rarely run anything on it whilst it’s on my desk. My second screen has been promoted to primary display and its height and position are where my chiropractor would want them. I’ve even replaced it with something bigger and better so that I have oodles of desktop space.

Great. The problem now is that OSX (Mountain Lion) is quite frankly pants at handling multiple displays and I don’t want to spend ages rearranging desktops and application windows every time I unhook my laptop to go to the office or a client site. Supposedly the next version of OSX (called Mavericks presumably because they ran out of big cat names) fixes a lot of these problems but I think I’ll go mad waiting for it.

In the meantime, Multimon does exactly what I want it to do. It remembers settings for different monitors, duplicates application menus on different displays, can resize and reposition app windows via shortcut keys and restores my app window positions when I reconnect and disconnect the external display.

I suspect he won’t let me deduct the cost of the software from the fee for the next appointment I have though…