How to use VMs for self-training, and for firmware flash automation

Posted by Paul Braren on Dec 6 2012 in
  • ESXi
  • Presentations
  • Here's a look back at some presentations that came out of some consulting work I had done for a variety of customers, in a variety of datacenter creation and consolidation projects, as an IBM Lab Services employee. All involved VMware virtualization. I started noticing areas where I could greatly improve deployment efficiency.

    So I created a virtual machine "appliance" called RapidFlash, that used novel methods to deploy large numbers of systems in new datacenters with no servers. Quickly and effectively, even using modest laptops. It's all explained in the presenters summary here, and in more detail below:

    Use RapidFlash to automatically update ALL firmware in a full IBM BladeCenter chassis
    Session ID: XII52
    2009 System x and BladeCenter Technical Conference (referenced here)
    July 27 –July 31, 2009 –Chicago, Illinois
    Paul Braren, IBM Systems Lab Services & Training


    While there in lovely Chicago, I also had a bit of fun also presenting how to use a rather modest ThinkPad T61p, with just 4GB of RAM, to run your own datacenter. On Microsoft 64 bit Vista. Don't laugh. For self-training, of course. But really to encourage the audience to give it a shot for themselves, removing much of the cost intimidation. Nearly all attendees to this session were preparing to be VCP certified themselves, and getting realtime feedback from the attendees was oh so very much fun for me. Here's the presentation:

    Run “vSphere in a box” on your laptop, to learn, demonstrate, and test vCenter, ESX4/ESXi4, VMotion, HA, and DRS
    Session ID: XVI50


    My own dabbling in a home lab started way back in the VMware GSX days, an entire decade ago. I re-share the above presentations to show that my cravings to run an efficient 24x7 datacenter in my own home go waaaay back. So many of my customers told me of their very similar intentions, during my 5 years on the road, as I worked in about 30 of these 50 United States. Most of those same folks shared similar disappointment at how expensive (and noisy) it was to utilize hand-me-down server-class gear in the home, which couldn't practically be left running 24x7.

    Flash forward to late 2011, when I finally completed the 125 watts Core i7 system that I leave running 24x7, that I affectionately call vZilla. Then you'll understand how it's my dream system, fully realized. Extremely versatile. Bringing many datacenter concepts into the home or lab environment, effectively, and efficiently.

    With some very big bumps in the road, which I'll be continuing to cover in upcoming articles. Stay tuned!