Updating Cisco Nexus switch firmware

My HomeLab network was recently treated to a networking upgrade in the form of a Cisco Nexus 5010 switch. Whilst it’s been working absolutely fine, it occurred to me the version of NX-OS (Cisco’s operating system for Nexus devices) installed was from 2009 and could probably do with an update.

Nexus devices run NX-OS, not Cisco iOS, as is typically seen on other Cisco products such as the Catalyst switch range. As such the upgrade process is a little different for this operating system.

In this post I’ll be showing how I sourced the firmware for my device and the steps required to update it to the latest NX-OS version as of September 2018.

Read More

Intel Optane 900P SSD – My HomeLab Review

The recently launched Optane 900P solid state drive is Intel’s first consumer storage product to depart from the use of conventional NAND flash and instead utilise Intel’s much newer 3D XPoint technology.

3D XPoint promises higher random I/O performance (up to 550K read IOPS), lower latencies and far better endurance.

In this post I’ll be installing an Intel Optane 900P SSD in my HomeLab and taking a look at its real world performance within a VMware ESXi environment. Most importantly, we’ll see how the added performance translates into real-world improvements with Windows virtual machines.

Read More

Azure Server Management Tools

Even though they’ve been out in preview for almost a year, I only recently found out about Azure Server Management Tools! In essence, it’s a light version of Microsoft’s ‘Server Manager’ ported to the Azure web management GUI.

If you have a hybrid cloud deployment to Azure, or are looking for ways to manage on-premise Windows VM’s (including Nano), this tool could be for you.

In this quick guide, I’m going to show you how to setup a monitoring in Azure, installing the gateway agent, and some use scenarios.

Read More

Installing Hyper-V Nano server to SD Card

Hyper-V Nano server is Microsoft’s true answer to VMware’s ESXi hypervisor. It weighs in at a tiny 500MB (approx) disk footprint and completely cuts out any sort of GUI, instead solely relying on remote management.

This really is the future of the Windows Server ecosystem: significantly reduced attack surface (92% fewer ‘critical’ vulnerabilities), scriptable PowerShell remote management, and a tiny disk footprint.

In this post I’m going to detail the steps I followed to setup a Windows Server 2016 Hyper-V Nano server image, and install it to the internal SD card of my home lab server, a HP ProLiant DL360 Gen8.

Prerequisites

Before getting started, you’re going to need a few things.:

  • Windows Server 2016 ISO image
  • Windows 10 ADK (link)
  • Nano Server Image Builder Tool (link)
  • USB Memory stick
  • 16GB SD Card

The image builder tool will need direct access to a USB flash disk, so this needs to be done on a physical Windows PC or a Mac running parallels.

Summary

This guide is going to be in three main parts. Building our custom Nano Server image, then onto generating the installation ISO/USB flash drive based on WinPE, and finally installing to the actual SD card.

Once we have generated a working installation USB drive or ISO, you can use this over and over again to easily install Nano Server.

Read More