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How I got into IT

July 21, 2020 | IRL, Virtualization | No Comments

Hi everyone,

This post will be all about me and how I got into the world of IT. (not covering anything else like school, etc because then it would be even longer, for that, I forward to this older post)

When I was born, and currently still do, I live with two “families” under one roof. A few years ago, the house was split in two with a wall, but before that I could just walk from one living room to another. I live there with my parents, and on the other side there is my great-uncle with my great-aunt.

Back then, my dad and great-uncle had a computer repair shop together. They would fix computers, install them, help out at people’s homes, etc.
When I was around six years old, I took an interest at it.
At this point my dad switched jobs and it was just my great-uncle doing this. He noticed that it interested me to be around him when he was fixing people’s PCs.
I would always watch and ask why he does what he is doing to learn how he does things. After a few months, he would slowly let me do small things to help him out, like turn off a computer. You know, the basics.
As I got older he would let me do more things, he would show me how to install Windows, how to clean up a computer properly, how to install certain programs, the basics of networking. (what a switch is, what a router does, etc)

I believe when I was around six or seven years old, I got my first laptop. It ran Windows XP, Windows 7 just released and this laptop was quite old, like really old. Old enough that it came with Windows XP when it was released.

Fast forward some more years, I believe I was ten or twelve, and I had my first computer, my dad’s old PC. I started to look at website builders that were free, just to play around with. I would build out websites for fun, that would represent something, I’m no longer sure what.

In 2013, I got started with a game, GTA: San Andreas. I found a multiplayer mod for this, MTA: San Andreas. (MTA standing for Multi Theft Auto instead of Grand Theft Auto). I was playing on a roleplay server at the time, I used my English as best as I could for my age to play on the biggest roleplay server at the time. (Roleplaying in this case, was just real life, but then in a game. So you’d have to make money, you can buy houses, drive vehicles after passing an actual theoretical test, and a practical one where you had to drive to way-points without getting your vehicle damaged or getting pulled over, such things.)
I wanted to start my own, because I found it a lot of fun. MTA: SA uses the LUA language for the “resources” you can put in its server. Using a leaked script as a base (I know, I know.. I was young okay?), I started to explore this and learn LUA, this were my first bits of programming experience next to HTML. I then started to add my own stuff and the gameserver grew, this is also my first experience as a bit of a system administrator, having to maintain my own Windows Server 2008 R2 virtual server I rented and getting DDoS attacks often from jealous people.

A different server became popular in mid-2014, which is when I closed mine down. It was a lot of fun and I learned some Windows System Administration basics, which was very nice. At that point, I realized that IT is definitely the way I want to go to. I really enjoyed maintaining it all and I somehow wanted to continue with this.
I kept the virtual server but used it as a webserver instead, I created my very first website from a template and edited it and ran it from there. Then I discovered ShareX, which can upload screenshots directly to a FTP server, which I had pointed at my virtual server. (Today it points at a S3 bucket that has a CloudFront CDN attached to it.)
Later I also wanted to learn Linux, so I obtained myself VMware Workstation and got my feet wet into the world of VMware and virtualization. Using Workstation to create Linux VMs, starting with CentOS and Ubuntu Server 14.04 (I believe) and later expanding to ESXi and vCenter.

In mid-2017, I bought my very first real server (and it was an old one… and LOUD!). I got myself a HP ProLiant DL140G3. Armed with two 4 core processors (no HT) and 32GB of memory, it was a loud jet engine at 1U. The server was made in 2008, so it’s also not very power efficient, but it was the only thing I could afford at that time. In the beginning of 2018 I got a second one. (I still have both of them, but I no longer use them.)
Both of these ran ESXi and through the internet, I got some licenses that I could use to deploy vCenter. This is when I got really excited and curious for the power of VMware products. I ran some basic workloads on it (ADDS, DNS, File server) on the two servers and that was all for a while.

Meanwhile on my main laptop I was able to run small VMware labs such as with NSX-V, though it’s really slow and small because of the lack of CPU and memory.

At the beginning of 2019, I got some extra money monthly from my parents, and I wanted to rent a more powerful server, because with what I got, saving up for a 1000 euro server would take years. So I went with Hetzner, and got myself one of their servers from the server auction. (I actually still rent this one to this day). Having my own dedicated server (rented), I got more experience with things like networking and remote networks. I deployed a pfSense VM on it with its own dedicated IP, and through an IPsec tunnel, I connected my home LAN with that server’s LAN and also added the ESXi host to my home vCenter.

I then in mid-2019 had saved up enough money through various means (Patreon for example and birthday money) to get my first real server with actual power. a DL380G6. Installed ESXi 6.7 on that (The DL140s only supported ESXi 6.0) and it’s still going strong today as my main host. It did go through an upgrade though at around April 2020, going from 144GB memory to 288GB memory. It has two 2.8 GHz Intel Xeon X5660s. 6 cores/12 threads per CPU.

During this time, I’ve had labs with a lot of products and situations. Such as VMware NSX-V, NSX-T, Cloud Director, HCX, Horizon and vSAN. (That’s what I can think of as of writing this post.) and non-VMware stuff like Palo Alto Network virtual firewalls, GNS3 with Cisco/Nokia gear and more.

This has greatly improved my knowledge on a lot of fields. Virtualization, system management, network management.

A few months before I got the memory upgrade, I rented a second server with Hetzner. A bit more powerful, and I run some more infrastructure VMs on it. Exchange Server 2019, cPanel and an extra web+database server. I also run vRealize Network Insight on that host.

As my income grew and I wanted to earn a little extra, I invested in my own Autonomous System number. In my case AS208751. I rent a /44 IPv6 subnet with it that I announce with a virtual server in Amsterdam, and from there I tunnel it over to my remote and home servers. I started to sell management for virtual servers and eventually also web hosting as well as virtual servers. This allows me to also scale up, I rented a /24 IPv4 subnet which I use partially for the renting stuff, but also for myself, assigning a /28 block to each of my servers. This came with a lot more learning. I suddenly had to learn about BGP and how to do this securely, making sure to have route filters in place and possible add RPKI.

This is all going well, and as of 08/07/2020 (DD/MM/YYYY) I bought a second DL380G6. It has two six core CPUs (Xeon X5660) with 144GB of memory. This extra server will be dedicated to larger labs, like Cloud Foundation and vSphere with Kubernetes.

I’d also like to mention that during my elementary school period, since I was about the age of 10, I was already helping out the fellow classmates with issues on the computers at school and even help out carry basic tasks for the system administrator. When I got in High School (that I did finish, but just barely) on my student account in their Active Directory I had some extra permissions so that I could help out the System Administrators there. I actually also found a type of leak, well, it was a share in Sharepoint that was a bit too wide open. They were happy I catched it before anyone else did and possibly abused it.

On July 17th, I got the amazing news that I’m part of the vExpert program now! Here is the link to me in the vExpert directoy. This is incredible and lots of it is thanks to, and they deserve a special shout-out; Lindy Collier and Heath Johnson.

There are still some solutions that I want to try out further, beyond the Hands on Labs. However, due to limitations like money I cannot do this. Solutions I would be very much interested in getting hands-on experience with, are VMware Cloud on AWS and GCP’s VMware Engine. For the VMware Engine, I did try to request a quota increase, but I got as a reply that “the quota could not be assigned at this time”, which made me a bit sad as I was excited for it that I could use some of my credits on that.

I hope that this long blog post gives you an insight of my past in IT and how I got into it. Feel free to email or tweet me any questions, thank you so much for reading and I hope to see you in a further post.

Hi all!

This post will be about the current state (05/20/2020 06/04/2020) of my home lab. Please keep in mind that I also have two ESXi hosts that I rent from a datacenter in Germany that I partially use for my home lab (though they are nowhere near as powerful as my home server).

Here are some pictures:

The black device on the wall is my ISP’s modem. It’s set to bridge mode, meaning it does not do any NAT, DHCP, etc. That routes to my EdgeRouter (which you can see on the edge of the plank in the first picture). This is the main router. It runs DHCP, does NAT, runs a BGP daemon and I have a VLAN on there for NSX-T.

The host you see here, is my HP Proliant DL380G6. It has two Intel Xeon X5660s (6 cores/12 threads at 2.8 GHz), and 288 GB of DDR3 ECC memory at 1333 MHz. I have six drives in it as you can see, they are connected with two SAS cables to an extra RAID card I have in the server, a Smart Array P420. I have two 2TB HDDs in it, a 320GB HDD, two 500GB SSDs and (now, with the update) two 1TB SSDs. Sadly on June 2nd 2020 my P420 controller died, more info here, so right now I use the build-in Smart Array P410i. The colorful cables all go up through the ceiling, into my bedroom’s floor, to a network switch as you can see down here:

Here you can see my Raspberry Pi collection,stacked on my Humax decoder. The black switch at the bottom is my 24 port non-PoE EdgeSwitch 24 Lite. It’s currently full. Stacked on top I have my older TP-Link TL-SG2216. Currently it’s not in use… yet.
Laying on that switch in a UniFi UAP-AC-PRO (more on that later). On the blue box I have a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B 4GB. I use this as a test machine sometimes. On the upper plank I have a Unifi Security Gateway for the WiFi and Guest network.
Next to that is a Unifi 8 port 60W PoE switch. Connected to that is the UAP-AC-PRO you see in the picture, and there’s one downstairs as well. Next to that is a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B I believe, connected to a ADS-B receiver dongle with matching antenna next to the RPi.
There used to a second RPi to the right of it, but it’s on my project table at the moment. That used to be connected with a SDR dongle, and has its antenna on the plank below, on the right side against the wall. That’s my indoor antenna I use to listen in on the airbands (which in The Netherlands is legal at the time of writing).

That’s the current state of my homelab right now. Hopefully it gives you an idea on what I run right now. It’s not done yet… I possibly need to update in a few years as officially, my CPUs don’t support ESXi 7.

I also want to go10 gigabit at some point, but that’s all years away most likely.

Thank you for reading and have a great day!

Hi everyone,

You may have noticed that my blog has gone very quiet recently.

For who asked, I didn’t make it into the vExpert 2020 program.

On a more recent note: COVID-19 is getting a real challenge. Right now I sit at home, in self-isolation and things are very, very boring.

For now I’m still free of the virus and don’t go outside unless I have to.

Sadly all this isolation and boredom makes my depression get more intense, so I’ll try to do things to try to avoid that.

Other than that, stay safe everyone.

See you in the next post, which hopefully comes soon..

Happy New Year!

January 1, 2020 | IRL | No Comments

Hello readers,

Happy New Year!

I wish all of you the best in 2020 and I hope to see you again in 2020!

Merry Christmas everyone!

December 25, 2019 | IRL | No Comments

Hello amazing readers,

I made the above myself with a guide online.

There will be one more post about new year and in 2020 hopefully my AWS YouTube series, VMware Cloud Foundation, my move back to NSX-T and more!

Merry Christmas to all of you and I hope to see you one more time in 2019 in my blog.

Update: Life, school, HE Sage and VMUG Advantage

September 28, 2019 | IRL | No Comments

Hi everyone,

Sorry for the quietness. As you might have noticed, I deleted the blog posts relating to the VMware Horizon Lab setup. I did this because I felt like it was poorly written and I was never able to finish it.

Here is an update that has been pending for a while.

I no longer go to school at this point, and should be getting an appointment for hormone therapy in about 10 or 11 months from writing this blog post. I try to learn myself things with the resources I have, but because of a major lack of money it’s hard. For networking lessons I use GNS3, and VMware NSX. Recently I learned how to set up OSPF in with GNS3 (Cisco equipment) and in NSX (using the ESG). I will make a blog post of that soon! Stay tuned!

Unfortunately I try to learn what I can in my lab, but both resources (compute, memory and storage), is limited, plus my access to products (Mainly VMware products) is limited, along with my access to licenses.

There is a solution to the software problem: a platform called VMUG Advantage. When you sign up for that, you get access to their EVALExperience program. Shortly said, with EVALExperience you get access to some of the VMware products, and you get a one year license for it. Which is great! I’m trying to save up for that, and any help is very much appreciated.

There’s another issue though: hardware. Currently, my lab is a license server. My trusty HP Proliant DL380G6. With two Xeon X5660s and 144GB of memory, plus 1TB of SSD storage and 4,32TB HDD storage, it’s a nice server. However, a lot of space is lost to what I run at home, leaving only about 30GB of memory for lab usage. Considering that according to a video on the VMware HOL YouTube channel by Doug Baer (which is recommend watching by the way), the average Hands on Lab is 72GB of memory, so it’s safe to say that most labs won’t fit on it. Sadly, I simply have no money for better gear. If you want to help with that, please contact me, any help is very much appreciated.

Now onto the HE Sage certification, I got my shirt a few weeks ago! I’m very happy to have it.

That was the update for now, feel free to email me for any questions.

Thank you for reading and have a good day!

IRL: Breaking heat records in The Netherlands

July 25, 2019 | IRL | No Comments

Hi readers,

As some of you may know, I am from The Netherlands. Where I live, up in the northern area of The Netherlands, it is 37°C while I am writing this post.

Some weather stations in the country have recorded 40 °C , which has never been seen before in our country.

Currently I am working on the follow-up post of the Horizon lab,and I am also working on a post about vRealize Network Insight and vRealize Log Insight.

Stay safe and hydrated everyone!

Thank you for reading this short post. I wrote this as an update for you, the readers.

Introduction and my story

June 22, 2019 | IRL | No Comments

Hello reader,

Welcome to my blog! Let me introduce myself.

My name is Michael Goossens, well, that is my official name. I’m a female born male from The Netherlands. Currently, on most of my profiles that are official (at companies), have my legal name, Michael. Though it will change to Michelle, eventually 🙂

Currently, I am 17 years old. I’ve been into computers and servers since I was six years old. It’s in my family, my father and uncle had a company where they repair computers. Unfortunately, my uncle retired and my father switched jobs, so it no longer exists.

I discovered my interest in servers when I was about 11. I started by playing around with Windows Server 2008, got into making an Active Directory Domain, DNS, DHCP.. Basic network admin and sysadmin stuff. I did this using old PCs that I had.

Then, when I was 12 or 13, I discovered virtualization. VMware… Oh boy. Things may have gotten a bit out of hand with that. More on that later. I started with VMware Workstation, running Linux in a VM on my PC. Then I went to nested virtualization, where I had ESXi 6.0 running inside VMware Workstation. After watching lots of documentation and YouTube videos, I started to get the hang of it.

When I was 15, I got my first real server. A HP ProLiant DL140G3, with two Intel Xeon X5355s, for a total of 8 cores, with 32 GB of ECC RAM. Man was I ever excited for it. It was LOUD, but it was worth it. (Seriously, it sounded like a jet taking off, all the time.) I quickly armed myself with an USB flash drive with the ESXi 6.0 installer on it, and after installing it on my single 500GB Samsung SSD, I threw some VMs on it. Windows Server 2012 R2 for ADDS and DNS, and a second VM that had a fileshare on it. (I was well aware that I could run that on one VM, but I had the space for at least two VMs, so I made a second one, just because I could. Hey, I was exploring after all.)

After a few months, I decided to explore Horizon and vCenter. Not at the same time, that wouldn’t fit on my server. First off I started with vCenter. Creating a Datacenter, adding the host, playing around with dvSwitches… It was a lot of fun. After a few months, I got myself a second server with the same specs. Now I could run vCenter and a basic Horizon setup at the same time. I was so happy, but… My parents were not, with the powerbill of the servers being 350W all day and night.

By this time, I’ve gotten off elementary school and high school. I started at a school to get my System and Network Admin degree, however I dropped out, as with my medical issue (hyperacusis; hypersensitivity to sounds, in my case, hearing everything 8-10x louder), I was unable to go to school and finish the degree, so I dropped out. This also means, that I’ll most likely never get my driver’s license, or be able to go with public transport.

When I was 16, I came clean to my therapist that I wanted to be a woman, on my birthday, March 29. I also told it to my parents that same day. I felt very relieved, knowing that they supported me. After a month, I went to a special therapist that is helping me with my transitioning. More about this later.

When I turned 17, I’ve already been wearing woman’s clothing, and shaved a lot. Some people close to me called me Michelle. Though to this day I still have to tell the rest of my family, not a lot know. in October 2019 I got signed up to the hospital for hormone therapy. Sadly, the waiting list is 18-18 months! So it will be 2021 before that even starts 🙁

Next to that, I also got myself a better server, a HP ProLiant DL380G6. It’s armed with two Xeon X5650s, for a total of 12 cores and 24 threads. It rocks 144GB ECC RAM and has two 500GB SSDs and a 1TB SSD, and plus two 2TB HDDs and a 320GB HDD. Right now, I run ESXi 6.7 on it. I also run a vCenter Virtual Appliance on it, and I have NSX deployed. I recently got myself a book, Mastering VMware vSphere 6.7. I’m learning all about Horizon at the moment, and play with NSX-T in a lab.

On my income, I’ll have to live with income I get from the government since I can’t work. I’m trying to get this sorted right now, and it’s going to be a pain and it has only just started. More updates on that to follow… (edit 22/05/2020: still working on it!)

I’ve had been having a depression since last year early 2019. It’s still not fully gone away and this whole virus thing isn’t making it any better 🙁

Thank you for reading this and I hope that you enjoyed your stay. I will keep this updated as things improve.

Last update: 22/05/2020

– 20/03/2020: updated server info and added info to my story.