Yes I fully admit that this article is click bait, but i can promise you that attending the event below will help you learn all about VMware’s latest and greatest release (and a few other things besides), as well as having the opportunity to network with some awesome like-minded individuals!
The event agenda is below and follows the usual mix of vendor sponsors and top notch community sessions, followed by a couple of cheeky lemonades at the vBeers event at the Pavilion End at the end of the day.
As an added bonus it seems that the night before the meeting, the crew from TECHUnplugged will be in town and everyone is invited to a vWhatever session (vBeers, vWine, vCurry, vWhatever!), location TBC. Keep an eye on Jane Rimmer’s blog for more info!
I am hoping to be at the event, having only missed one in about the last 3 years, so if you do spot me there (I’m the 6’7” Scottish bloke”)!
I begin this brief post with a certain level of trepidation, I suspect most likely to due to the inherent discomfort which most Brits feel when discussing the relative qualities of one another’s labours.
Many hundreds of bloggers around the world spend tens and sometimes hundreds of hours every year producing such excellent content, it is often used not only to augment vendor documentation, but indeed to replace it (whilst at the same time providing keen insight and valuable opinion on the state of our industry)!
I certainly don’t count myself among those individuals, but hope that the occasionally irregular content I find the time to post is of some value to somebody! 🙂
So with that in mind if you’re reading this now, I would encourage you to head over to Eric’s site below and register your votes; it only takes take a few seconds of your time to show some appreciation for the time and effort put in by those ladies and gentlemen who worked tirelessly throughout the year to help make all of our jobs that little bit easier.
As a VMware vExpert we are kindly provided free licenses for Veeam Backup & Replication and Veeam One. I have been using Veeam B&R for the last year and have successfully used it to protect half a dozen of my key lab machines and do one or two restores over that time.
The licenses we are provided with by Veeam are based on a 365 day evaluation, so my backup server was reaching its expiry date this week. I was running Veeam B&R version 7.x, so as part of the upgrade license I also needed to update the Veeam software from version 7 to 8.
This turned out to be an incredibly easy process with only a couple of minor tweaks at the end to get things up and running. As you can see from the screenshots below the installation and update of Veeam is pretty much a next, next, finish type of installation.
It’s also with mentioning that I have documented the process for upgrading Veeam B&R, but the process for upgrading Veeam One is pretty much the same.
As with any standard upgrade to software running in a virtual machine, I started by taking a snapshot of that machine.
Next step was to mount the ISO file Veeam into a virtual machine operating system and start the install wizard.
Of course I read every single word of the license agreement.
The installer recognised the previous version of the software and offered to upgrade to latest automatically.
I then pointed the install wizard to the evaluation license key provided to me by the folks at Veeam.
A number of basic checks are completed to ensure that the appropriate pre-requisites are in place.
Next you would enter the service account for Veeam. Obviously being a home lab and me being incredibly lazy, this is the local machine administrator in this case. In any production environment this should of course be a dedicated account.
The existing SQL express database instance is selected.
Veeam recognises this has an instance on it which can be upgraded.
The installer is now ready to run.
After about five minutes installation is complete.
After a quick reboot, the server is back up and running and I log back in. When I launch Veeam B&R 8 for the first time, it recognises that some server components still need to be upgraded.
Again this is just a next, next, finish setup.
The only issues I have seen after the upgrade were a couple of VMs which failed their backups. After a reboot of said machines, everything was right as rain and backups are running as normal.
Once I was sure everything was working properly, and had run a couple of successful backups, I committed and deleted the snapshots taken at the start of the process.
Conclusion Overall the process was very simple and very slick, exactly what you want from a software upgrade. Particularly impressive considering this was a full version upgrade, not just a point release. You can see why their marketing department came up with the tagline “It Just Works”!
Although most organisations I have worked for in the past have generally used more traditional backup vendors, Veeam is definitely enterprise ready and well worth considering. The only drawback, is that if you run a mixed environment of physical and virtual machines, you may require multiple backup platforms. Even then, Veeam Endpoint can do this in some scenarios AFAIK.
Having recently had the Hive smart thermostat system installed in our house by British Gas, I’ve been asked by a handful of people subsequently as to whether it is any good, so here are a few notes to that end… being a thermostat review of course, it does have the potential to be the most boring blog post ever! With that in mind, if you have narcoleptic tenancies or have pretty much anything else to do, I suggest you stop reading now!
Installation We didn’t get off to a great start as there were some scheduling issues with BG getting the right engineer to come and complete the fitting (not all of their engineers are currently trained to do so). That aside, the actual install was relatively quick and simple, with a minor niggle when the engineer had to contact the Hive team to reset the device and get it to make its original connection “back to base”.
The thermostat is also completely wireless (using standard AA batteries), so we we’re able to relocate it as part of the installation, into our living room. Point to note, it is ideally meant to be installed at a height of 1.5m from the floor, something which our engineer didn’t actually mention when fitting it below this height. The wireless feature is very handy though, as the location of our old wired thermostat was not ideal and this will now more accurately allow us to control the temperatures based on where we spend the most time.
Functionality Ultimately it’s a thermostat, so functionally it simply:
Turns our upstairs hot water on and off on a schedule (downstairs is on demand already).
Turns the heating on until it reaches the defined temperature.
But, compared to a standard on/off thermostat, it also:
Allows different temperatures at different times of day, instead of just being based on whatever temperature your legacy thermostat is currently set to.
Has built in freeze protection, so even if you turn it off when you leave the house, if the temperature drops below 5 degrees, it will automatically turn on your heating; very useful indeed!
Geolocation – Can use your current location (via the smart phone app) to turn your heating on / off depending on whether you are in the house, or within a specified distance of it.
Usability Between myself using the app and my wife using the wall unit for the past week I can confirm that it is fine, but the wall unit UI is not quite as intuitive as it perhaps could be. For example changing the current scheduled temp will temporarily show the desired temp, then switch back to showing the current temp. This led my wife to believing that it had not accepted her new temp! Perhaps a better UI would have been to show both temps (current and target) on the same screen in different size fonts…
I have not yet tested the Geolocation feature so won’t comment on that yet, other than that I hope Hive are not keeping a track of your location history on their systems – this is not made clear on their FAQ website and would be a bit creepy if they were!
Configurability Temperature on the thermostat can be set to the nearest 0.5 degrees, which is granular enough for us.
The only minor bugbear I found was that the original firmware delivered was based on a 4-slot schedule. For example:
That’s all very well if you are out during the day every day or want the same temperature most of the time, but what about weekends, or even if you have young children at home during the day. The recently added functionality to the system is a 6-slot schedule. So now you can have (for example):
This is much more useful, particularly for heating. I have found the 4-slot schedule perfectly adequate for the hot water schedule.
Customer Service So far my only interaction with customer services was when I posted a tweet that I could really do with the 6-slot schedule (not rolled out to everyone at this point). A very polite customer agent at Hive picked up on my tweet:
@alexgalbraith Hi there, Alex. Glad you’re loving your new Hive system. DM your username and I’ll get those 2 slots out to you ^Garth
He got my account details via DM, pushed out a firmware update to my device to add the functionality, and DM’d me again to let me know when it was updated a couple of hours later. How about that for customer service?!
Performance The app can be a little slow refreshing your current heating status and temperature at times, even on a decent 3G connection and occasionally even on wifi. Other than that it’s pretty quick and easy to use. Telling the thermostat to increase the temperature usually results in the boiler kicking in 5-30 seconds later.
Security As I understand it, Hive uses the fast growing industry standard ZigBee protocol, which uses 128-bit AES encryption for its communication between devices.
The hub itself is apparently an AlertMe SmartHub Nano, which runs a variant of Linux. This should be reasonably secure assuming it has been locked down, and that BG provide regular security patching to the device, especially in light of recent major security issues such ShellShock. Ultimately the device does not require you to open inbound ports on your router, so assuming all comms between hub and central system are SSL encrypted as they are with the apps, then it’s no less secure than your laptop accessing a secure website over wifi.
Money Saving & Costs
It’s too soon to tell whether it has saved any real money, but I do know that with the more specific schedules than we could achieve with our old thermostat I think it is likely that it will save money. Whether we get close to the claimed £150 pa on the website, I’m not convinced, but even if it only achieves a third of that, then it should pay for itself within 3 years.
The system comes with a one year warranty. Beyond that we use British Gas HomeCare, so any issues are covered by BG as part of our service plan. If you are not using BG HomeCare, then your mileage and potential costs may vary!
Moving House Interestingly, if you move house or move into a house which has a hub, you can still use the standard thermostat functionality and configure it using the wall unit, but you would need to buy a new hub to get the online and app features, which seems somewhat unreasonable and wasteful to me!
Conclusion Overall I’m pretty happy with the system and I think it will likely save some money in the long run, whilst providing a more convenient experience and comfortable home. My wife is less so, but then again, she still uses a BlackBerry!
Fingers crossed it lives up to expectations and that reliability proves good over the coming months and years!