Windows Server 2019 – Now available in preview

On March 20th, 2018 the Microsoft Windows Server Team announced that Windows Server 2019 was now available in preview. This is the one of the first times we’ve heard about the new server operating system and it has certainly been met with mixed reactions. It is expected for release sometime in the second half of 2018.

Today is a big day for Windows Server! On behalf of the entire Windows Server team, I am delighted to announce Windows Server 2019 will be generally available in the second half of calendar year 2018. Starting now, you can access the preview build through our Insiders program. -Erin Chapple, Director of Program Management, Windows Server

This new edition of Windows Server seems to have come at at time where most enterprises are just now starting to deploy Windows Server 2016. This is primarily due to Microsoft’s updated release schedule channels.

Microsoft has indicated that Windows Server 2019 release will be part of the Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC), which also includes Windows Server 2016. Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) formerly called the “Long-Term Servicing Branch” is Microsoft’s release model where a new major version of Windows Server is released every 2-3 years. Users are entitled to 5 years of mainstream support and 5 years of extended support. This channel is appropriate for systems that require a longer servicing option and functional stability. Continue reading…

New Synology DS1817+ NAS & ISP Switch

By the end of 2017 nearly all my NAS servers were close to reaching full capacity. I had already pre-decided on getting a Synology DS1817+ but it was just a matter of when. I wanted something that was more than five bays and would be upgradable to 10G networking in the future. The DS1817+ seemed to match all of my needs and my budget. Continue reading…

VMUG Advantage is 10% off

Today VMware announced that VMUG Advantage is 10% off until December 31st, 2017.

This is the best way to get VMware licenses for your home lab environment. This is included with VMUG Advantage membership through EVALExperience which gives you a 365-day evaluation license for personal use in a non-production environment. Continue reading…

Website Refresh! v2.0

The vSkilled blog website has had some major improvements and is now officially launched as version 2.0!

The previous design had been in use since late 2014. Over time there were design elements and plugins that stopped working altogether or were causing various issues. I had worked tirelessly to improve the page loading times but had exhausted all my options on the old design. I knew a new design was going to be needed and I began slowly scoping out what I wanted for the new website refresh.

Version 2 (2017 – present)

Version 1 (2014 – 2017)

As you can see I wanted to keep a similar layout, only have it more simplified, and easier to maintain. I believe that has been accomplished. The cleaner look makes it look more professional and easier to read. I think the single post style instead of a post grid also makes the front page more attractive and relevant. Continue reading…

Home Lab Rebuild

It’s been long overdue for some changes to my home lab. The latest full outage on Sept 4, 2017 due to a power brown-out had me realizing that some improvements can be made. There has not been any major changes to the lab since 2015. In 2016 I upgraded the storage in NAS1, memory upgrade for VMH02, added Ubiquiti UAP-AC-LITE access points, and a security camera.

Now I’m going back to the drawing board and doing a fresh rebuild. The goal this time around is to be simple and redundant.

  1. Hardware firewall: I have custom built a 1U Supermicro server that will be used as the new firewall. It has a Intel Xeon X3470 CPU, 8GB RAM, quad gigabit LAN ports and a 200W low power supply. I’ve also replaced the stock passive CPU heat-sink with the Thermaltake Engine 27 low profile heat-sink. It’s a well balanced combination of performance, power and noise. In the old lab design the virtualized firewall introduced too many dependencies and greatly increased the complexity of the network. During a power outage scenario it also requires me to have a VM host and storage online which does not last long on UPS batteries. Having a low power hardware firewall allows me more flexibility and faster recovery from a total lab black-out.
  2. Additional UPS backup power: There will now be a third UPS battery for the home lab. I will dedicate one UPS for the core networking equipment and try to keep the load on it under 25% to maximize the battery life. The rest of the gear will be balanced over the other two UPS batteries.
  3. Standard Virtual Switches: I will be removing the Virtual Distributed Switch and LACP on the ESXi hosts.  This is a tough call but I have weighed the options. The VDS in my environment is overkill. I have two hosts, with only one of them on at a time. In my scenario the VDS’s only purpose is configuration sync. I don’t use traffic shaping, private VLANs, LLDP, etc! The only loss I will take by moving down to a VSS is having to manually maintain the port groups exactly the same on each host and no LACP. That doesn’t concern me because that hardly ever changes.

Continue reading…